Juvenile Services FAQs
My child was arrested, what happens now?
The police report will be forwarded to the Probation Department. Based on what is in the police report, the Probation Department will decide what the next steps will be. An assessment will be done through the Assessment Center. Some options are to have the case handled informally or to request a petition be filed by the District Attorney and that the minor go to Court. The Probation Department can decide to keep a child in Juvenile Hall or release them to a parent or guardian. If a petition is filed by the District Attorney, a Deputy Probation Officer (DPO) will be assigned to do an investigation and write a report to the Court with recommendations.
Should I retain an attorney?
The Probation Department cannot give any legal advice. There is a Private Defender’s Office, where someone is available to speak to you. The phone number for the Private Defender’s Office is (650) 312-5396.
How do I get a copy of the police report?
The Probation Department does not have the authority to release police reports. To obtain a copy, go to the Police Department that made the arrest. They will determine when or if the police report can be released to you. You may also submit a request to the Court that the Police Department release the report.
When will my child be released from Juvenile Hall?
Children are released to a parent or guardian or kept at Juvenile Hall based on the seriousness of the crime, their criminal history, and other information regarding whether or not they pose a threat to the community or are at risk of not showing up at their next Court date. The Probation Department only makes recommendations to the Court. It is the Judge’s decision to determine how long children will stay in custody and under what conditions they will be released. The Judge will consider the seriousness of the offense, if there have been previous contacts with law enforcement agencies, and how likely the child is to appear for their next court date, among other things.
What are my financial responsibilities?
Parents are responsible for paying all restitution. Even if there is more than one defendant responsible, each defendant is jointly and severally responsible to make sure the victim(s) is/are compensated.
What do I need to bring to my child’s first Court appearance?
Just you and your child. Both parents are not necessary, but are encouraged to attend. Have your child dress appropriately for Court. Jeans, sweats, t-shirts, shorts and other casual attire are not appropriate. The Judge prefers professional attire. Arrive early so you have some time to speak with someone from the Private Defender’s Office. Put together a list of questions ahead of time to save time and to make sure you get all of your questions answered. Do not bring food, drink, or cell phones. They will not be allowed in the Court area.
What can I expect to happen in Court?
There will be a lot of wait time. Plan enough time off from work. Your first court date is called an arraignment. At this Court appearance, you will be notified of the charges your child is facing. After Court, you will be asked to make contact with a DPO, who will begin to gather information for their report to the Court.
The second court date is called pre-trial. This is when the Courts attempt to resolve cases without going to trial. The DPO will have completed a report with recommendations to the Court. The District Attorney, your Attorney, your DPO, and the Judge will attempt to come to an agreement. If you, your child and your Attorney are satisfied with the recommendation, your child will be asked if they admit to the charges and then the petition will be “sustained,” which means the charge has been determined by the Court to be true. In Adult Court, someone is convicted, but with a juvenile, the charges are sustained. If you, your child or your Attorney are not satisfied with the recommendation or assert that your child is not guilty of the charges, then the case can be held for a jurisdictional hearing.
At a jurisdictional hearing evidence is presented and witnesses are questioned. Based on the evidence presented, the Judge (Juvenile Courts do not have juries) will make a determination of innocence or guilt. The Probation Department prepares a report with a recommendation. The Court may impose Court Orders or continue the matter for a dispositional hearing/court date. The DPO will also prepare a report and make recommendations for that hearing, which the Judge will consider and then make the appropriate Court Orders.
My child is out of control. Can I bring them to Juvenile Hall?
No. Juvenile Hall does not accept children who have not been charged with a crime. Only those children who have committed a crime and are seen as a danger to society or a flight risk are detained.
When can my child be tried as an adult?
Your child must be at least 14 years old and have committed a very serious offense as defined in the California Penal Code to be charged as an adult. The District Attorney considers the degree of criminal sophistication, the child’s potential for rehabilitation, previous criminal history, whether the minor responded to previous attempts at rehabilitation, and the circumstances and gravity of the present offense.
Some offenses that would be considered as serious offenses include the following or attempting the following; murder, arson, robbery, sex offenses involving force or fear, kidnapping, torture, mayhem, carjacking, voluntary manslaughter, escape by means of force or violence, or crimes that involve the use of a weapon or result in great bodily injury.
My child was declared a Ward of the Court as the result of a sustained criminal charge and placed on probation. What can I now expect?
Your child’s DPO should be in touch with you in a timely manner to set up an initial meeting. Based on the seriousness of the crime and the needs of the child and family, your child will be assigned to a DPO in a particular unit. The amount of intervention will be based on the status and conditions of probation ordered by the Judge.
You can expect your child to be contacted at school. In most cases, you can also expect DPOs to make home visits. If search and seizure is imposed, they may search your child’s room and all common areas of your residence (all areas the child has access to). DPOs may do this on their own, with another DPO, and/or with local Police Officers and/or the Gang Task Force. The frequency and type of contact will be based on the level of supervision that meets the needs of the child, in an effort to prevent continued criminal or delinquent behavior.
If chemical testing orders are imposed, your child may be tested for the use of drugs and alcohol. You and/or your child may be required to attend programs and treatment. There could be additional Court dates to check on the status of your child’s performance on probation.
How do I find out who my child’s Deputy Probation Officer (DPO) is and how to get a hold of them?
DPOs may not be assigned right away, so there may be a short time when your child does not have a DPO. The Probation Department phone number is (650) 312-8816. If you call this number, someone should be able to look up your child’s name in the system and give you the name of his/her DPO and their phone number. Keep in mind that this information is confidential and the staff may want reassurance that you are entitled to that information.
How long will my child be on probation?
Unlike the Adult Probation system, there is no set amount of time that a child can be on formal probation. The child will remain on probation until they meet all of the conditions of their probation or commit a new offense as an adult. The Judge is the only one who can release a child from the terms of their probation.
If the client commits a new crime as an adult, often times the Juvenile Court will terminate juvenile probation. The Juvenile Court can maintain jurisdiction until the client reaches the age of 21 and in some cases the age of 25.
Informal Probation and Diversion are generally a maximum of six months.
What is Maximum Confinement Time?
Maximum confinement time is the maximum time a child can be detained in a secured facility; the time is based on the sustained charge(s) on the child’s record as dictated by law.
What happens when my child turns 18?
Juvenile probation cases are prosecuted based on the age of the child at the time the crime was committed. The Juvenile Justice System can maintain jurisdiction over a case until the client turns 21. In certain cases, and based on the severity of the offense (offenses listed in 707(b) of the Welfare and Institutions Code), a client may remain under the jurisdiction of the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) until the age of 25.
The length and time on probation and conditions are determined by the overall situation. If the client commits a new offense after they turn 18, the new case is handled in the Adult Justice System and juvenile probation is normally terminated.
Can I join the military if I am on probation?
Each military branch has requirements, which may include that your probation has been terminated prior to enlisting. Some offenses may render you ineligible for military service. You should contact the recruiter for the branch of service that interests you for specific information.
Do I have to report my probation status to my employer?
No, not unless the Court orders you to report.
Do I have to report that I have been convicted of a crime on a job application?
No, not for a juvenile matter. There are no “convictions” in a Juvenile Court. The charges that are found true are sustained and juvenile records are confidential.
Can anyone call the Probation Department to check my records?
No, all juvenile records are confidential and require a signed release of information in order for the Probation Department to share information with anyone other than the parent or guardian of the child.
What happens if I violate my conditions of probation?
The response is related to the severity of the violation. For minor violations, the situation may be handled informally by the DPO who may respond with anything from a verbal warning to additional requirements such as an earlier curfew, additional counseling, community service, etc. If it is a serious violation, a new law violation, or a violation that has occurred more than once, you could be detained in the Juvenile Hall and returned to Court for further action.
Can my child be out after curfew?
No, the mandated curfew requires the child to be at their legal residence between the hours of 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM or earlier as directed by the parent or DPO. Of note, the Court may set an earlier curfew. This means that they are not allowed to spend the night anywhere other than their legal residence unless they are with one of their parents or legal guardians. Parents should check with their child’s DPO when planning a vacation, being out past curfew hours for family outings, or the changing of residence because an Order from the Court may be required.