Frequently Asked Questions - Juvenile Probation

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What happens when my child commits a crime, but was not arrested?

When a juvenile commits a crime local law enforcement is contacted.  Law enforcement takes a report and refers it to the Probation Department.  You may be contacted by the Probation Department for a meeting or you and your child may be noticed to appear in Court.   

What if my child was arrested?

When a juvenile is arrested the law enforcement officers releases them to the custody of the Probation Department.  Once in the Probation Department’s custody, the probation officer determines whether the juvenile meets the requirements to be released to their parents/guardians, placed on house arrest, placed on GPS monitoring, or booked at the juvenile center. ​

My child was arrested and then released to go home, but the probation officer said that this matter was going to be referred to the District Attorney's Office for petition, what does that mean? 

This means that the juvenile did not meet criteria to be detained at the juvenile center, however the crime is severe enough to have the District Attorney review and determine if it meets the elements of the crime to charge the juvenile with a violation of the law.  If it does, you and your child will be noticed to appear before the Court. 

My child was arrested and then released to go home, but the probation officer made an appointment for a meeting, what should I expect? 

The probation officer made the determination that your child does not meet the criteria for detention at the juvenile center, but deemed it appropriate to have your child participate in a diversion program through the Probation Department. 

Can my child be tried as an adult? 

There are a few crimes that the law requires that your child be tried as an adult.  If this happens your child's case will be tried in the Adult Criminal Court system.  This should be noted in the notice to appear.

We were noticed to appear in Court, what is going to happen?  How does the juvenile justice system work?

The following may or may not pertain to your child’s case.  If you have questions you may contact the Probation Department, the District Attorney’s Office or the Court for assistance.

  • Initial appearance/arraignment – The juvenile is formally read the charges in the petition.  The Judge advises the juvenile and parents/guardians of their rights and a public defender may be appointed. 
  • Detention hearing - If the juvenile is detained then this hearing will take place within 48 or 72 hours.  The judge will decide if the juvenile can go home before the next hearing.
  • The pretrial or settlement conference – This type of hearing is calendared to try to solve this matter without a trial. 
  • Hearings on motions - These are court dates to work out different things. Motion hearings can come up at any time during the case.
  • Fitness or waiver hearing - This is a hearing to decide if the juvenile will be tried as an adult. If the judge decides that the juvenile is “unfit” for juvenile court, the juvenile will be tried in adult court. This will not happen if the juvenile is under 14 when they committed the crime.
  • Jurisdiction hearing - This is when the judge decides if the juvenile committed the crime.
  • Disposition hearing - If the judge decides the juvenile committed the crime, there will be a disposition hearing to decide what the outcome of the matter is. This can be on the same day as the jurisdiction hearing. If the judge determines that the juvenile did not commit the crime, there will be no disposition hearing.
  • Review hearings - Sometimes there are hearings to see how the juvenile is doing in their placement or on their probation term. 

Does my child need an attorney, do I need an attorney?

Your child a right to an attorney.  If you cannot afford an attorney, the Court will appoint an attorney to represent your child.  Usually the parents/guardians do not need an attorney, just keep in mind that the attorney the Court appoints to represent your child will only represent your child, not you. 

What are the different outcomes the Court could impose?

The Court could place your child on probation, order your child to serve time in the custody of the juvenile center, or remove your child from your home and place them in a group home.

My child ran away, can they be put on probation? 

Running away is not a crime.  However, if the juvenile has been exhibiting delinquent behavior, but has not committed a crime, and the parents/guardians would like some guidance, contact your Probation Department.  Set up a meeting to see what services they can provide or refer you to. 

My child was placed on probation and given terms and conditions, so what are terms and conditions?

Probation terms and conditions are a set of rules ordered by the Court that you and your child shall follow while your child is on probation.  Failure to follow such rules may result in a probation violation. 

My child violated their probation terms and conditions, what happens now?

The Probation Department has implemented a set of graduated sanctions that provide the probation officer with guidance as to what sanction your child will have according to the violation.  In addition, this matrix has incentives that the probation officer may use to help your child successfully complete their probation term.

My child is now on probation, what is the worst thing that can happen? 

Having your child on probation is an upsetting experience on its own, therefore there are no minimal nor worst things that can happen.  Different scenarios lead to different outcomes.  

What are my responsibilities as a parent now that my child is on probation? 

All your parental/guardianship responsibilities continue.  In addition to those responsibilities it also means that you are to follow the probation officer's directives to ensure your child's success on probation.  Further, if your child is ordered to pay a fine or restitution, you are financially responsible.

Can my child's juvenile records be private or destroyed? 

Your child's juvenile record can be sealed, but it does not happen automatically.  Your child has to submit a request to the Probation Department when they have turned 18 years of age or it has been 5 years since your child successfully finished their probation term.