What Happens at a Juvenile Detention Hearing?

If your child has been arrested, you have probably been informed that he or she will be having a “juvenile detention hearing.”  If your child was arrested in Collin County this hearing will probably be held at the John R Roach Detention Center.  Under Chapter 54 of the Texas Family Code, your child is entitled to a detention hearing on the next working day following his or her arrest.  As long as you can be located, you are entitled to notice of this hearing, and anything your child says cannot be used against him or her at a later hearing or trial on the merits of the case (with the exception of if the child lies, in which case he could be prosecuted for perjury).  Unlike the adult system, at this point in the case, the judge is really just trying to get a feel for how the child is doing and what may be going on to trigger any sort of delinquent behavior, if any.

At this detention hearing, the judge will determine whether your child will go home (either to a parent or another relative who has agreed to take him) or be held at the detention center for another ten (10) working days until their next hearing date.  At the detention hearing, the judge will take into account five circumstances in determining whether or not to release your child:

  • Whether the child is likely to abscond or be removed from the jurisdiction of the court;
  • Whether suitable supervision, care of protection for the child is not being provided;
  • Whether there is a parent, guardian, or custodian who can return the child to court;
  • Whether the child may be dangerous to himself or others; and
  • Whether the child has been previously found to be delinquent.

If any one of these circumstances is present, the judge may continue detention for another ten (10) days.  If the judge decides to keep your child in custody, very often during the following ten (10) days, the probation officer, guardian ad litem, and others will conduct home studies for suggested placements for the child.  Sometimes, psychological and/or psychiatric evaluations are also ordered.  Typically a supervision plan will need to be in place before the child is released.

If the judge does order that your child is held for 10 more days, don’t panic.  It is not an indication of how good or bad the case is against your child or how severe the crime is necessarily, or even that your child would be in the juvenile detention facility long-term.  It is usually just a chance for probation to get a supervision plan in place that is acceptable to all parties involved.  This may mean that your child can come home to you with an adjustment in supervision, or it could mean that your child would stay with a trusted relative.  Often, if a placement is secured before the 10 business days is up, the hearing may be held sooner, so as to release the child as soon as possible.

A juvenile defense attorney can provide helpful advice throughout this process.

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