The Juvenile Court Process: The Arrest

When a child is arrested, even before the prosecutor decides whether or not to file a petition against the child, a process begins to decide where a child should stay while the case is pending. A child can be released to his/her parents (and, in fact, can be immediately released by the police officer on the scene to a parent or guardian), may be taken to be “booked” first, and then released, or may be detained for hours, overnight, several days, or even weeks at the juvenile detention facility.


At school, the child is often processed (fingerprinted, photo, vital information taken, etc.) right at school by the campus police officer, then “released” and allowed to go home to the parents. In more serious cases, the officer may transport the child from school to the juvenile detention facility.


If the child is released to the parents, they will await further contact by the Juvenile Court by mail or by phone from a juvenile probation officer, notifying them of a court date or of a meeting with the PO to begin the intake process in advance of a court date. At that time, the PO will also likely serve the child and parents with a petition, the charging document that alleges the specific offenses. It is not uncommon for a family not to hear something for a period of weeks or even months, if the child is never taken actually into detention but is, instead, processed and released.


If the child is taken to the juvenile detention facility prior to being released to the parents or to be held for a detention hearing, he will be checked to see if he needs any medical attention and given whatever treatment is necessary. Intake staff at the facility will attempt to contact the parents and let them know that the child has been arrested and what the status is. The intake staff will review the information from the police to make a preliminary determination if there is probable cause, in order to hold the child. The child will be searched and his belongings seized and catalogued to be held for him until he is released. The intake process will begin, where the intake officer gathers the child’s history and information and may have the child submit to some preliminary evaluations regarding substance abuse and mental health.

© 2017 Sumpter & González , L.L.P.
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