What Happens When A Juvenile Is Arrested?

Amir Ladan: When a juvenile is arrested, one of two things happens. On minor offenses, like a petty theft or a simple misdemeanor, they can actually be released back to a parent.
The parent would sign off on paperwork indicating that they’re aware of the court date and have committed to attend.

In all other cases, they have to go before a judge for a detention hearing. That doesn’t happen until the next day. At the detention hearing, the judge will make a decision based on the charges and other factors.

Interviewer: How about when juveniles are arrested? Are they taken to the regular adult jail?

Detention Hearing

Amir Ladan: No. They’re taken generally to the juvenile assessment center first. If they’re released it’s from the juvenile assessment center. It’s called the JAC. If they’re not releasable, then they’re going to be held at the juvenile detention center until the court conducts the detention hearing.

Interviewer: If someone’s child disappears and they think they may have been arrested, they could find out from the police?

Amir Ladan: Yes.

Police Contact After an Arrest

Interviewer: When juveniles are arrested, is it common courtesy that the police will try to contact the parents right away before taking them to the assessment center? Or they’ll take them there and process them, and then they’ll be contacted?

Amir Ladan: The statutes are kind of unusual here. They don’t require immediate notification. It does indicate that they should make a good faith effort to reach the parent or legal guardian to notify them of the arrest, and of the child’s whereabouts.

How Long Should the Police or Detention Center Take Before Contacting the Parents?

Interviewer: How long is it before the parents are contacted?

Amir Ladan: That’s really the odd part about it. It’s kind of a gray area, so there’s no real specific timetable here. It could possibly be hours before any contact.

Interviewer: In the cases you’ve seen, is it pretty common for the police or the detention center to very quickly contact the parents or are they slow about it?

Amir Ladan: In my experience, they’re generally a little slower than I would want. If I was the parent of the child and I didn’t know where they were, what was going on, I’d kind of like to know right away.

Interviewer: I agree 100%.

Amir Ladan: Law enforcement never contacts the parent right away. It takes hours. Sometimes they find out because the juvenile assessment center is calling to say, “your child has been arrested and is here being booked in on such and such charges.” So, it literally could be hours later.

Author: Amir Ladan
A former assistant state attorney for Orange/Osceola Counties, Amir has handled thousands of cases and dozens of trials, ranging from DUI and traffic offenses to murder, in both adult and juvenile court.

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