Can a Grandparent Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer for their Grandchild in Salt Lake City?

In today’s world, it has become increasingly common for grandparents to be intimately involved in the raising of their grandchildren. No loving grandparent wants to get a call from their grandchild, or from their son and daughter, saying their grandchild has been arrested and needs their help. Grandparents who have never dealt with the Utah juvenile justice system before may not know the differences between this system and the regular adult justice system and may not know what steps to take to best help their grandchild through their troubles. At Overson Law PLLC, our compassionate, experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer are here to guide you through the process. Below, we explain the juvenile justice system and what you can do to help a grandchild who has been arrested.

Grandparents Hiring a Grandchild’s Defense Attorney in Salt Lake City

The first thought that may occur to a grandparent is that your grandchild needs an attorney to represent them through this process. This is exactly the right way to be thinking. However, you may be unsure whether you are allowed to hire an attorney on behalf of your grandchild. You can. In Utah, it is permissible to hire an attorney for someone else, so long as that person accepts the attorney’s representation. However, even if the grandparent makes the hire, attorney-client privilege still applies. This means that you will not be entitled to know what is discussed in private conversations between your grandchild and their lawyer unless your grandchild chooses to waive this privilege.

The Juvenile Justice System in Salt Lake City

Many people do not realize that the juvenile justice system in Utah operates as a completely separate and distinct entity than the adult criminal justice system. Instead of imposing punishments, the stated goal of the juvenile justice system is to work toward the your grandchild’s rehabilitation and get them back on the straight and narrow.

Pre-Trial Detention and Bail Process for Salt Lake City Juveniles

One of the biggest differences between the adult justice system and the juvenile justice system in Salt Lake is that, for the most part, the juvenile justice system does not use bail. Most of the time, the juvenile intake unit will see fit to release the child to their parent or guardian’s custody after they have been booked and processed. Occasionally, the intake unit may recommend the child be sent to the juvenile detention center while the underlying matter is resolved. This is only permitted for a list of “holdable offenses,” generally comprised of violent offenses like assault.

Within 48 hours of any decision by the juvenile intake unit that the minor should be held in detention, there will be a hearing before a juvenile court judge who will accept or deny this recommendation. It is vital that your grandchild be represented by a seasoned Salt Lake City juvenile defense attorney like those at Overson & Bugden at this hearing. We know the type of arguments that will be most persuasive in getting the judge to release the child to your care or to the care of their legal guardian while the process plays out. This is especially important considering no bail will be offered if the judge orders the child to detention, as the detention will be seen as a part of their rehabilitation process, not a punishment.

For certain particularly serious felonies, such as homicide, the judge has the option to transfer your grandchild’s case to the adult court system. If this occurs, the normal bail process will play out. Also, bail may be requested in situations where a child is seen as releasable, but they either live out of state or have a history of not showing up for court. In these cases, the purpose of bail is to offer an additional incentive for the child and their guardian to ensure the child complies with all required appearances.

Preliminary Inquiry for Salt Lake City Juveniles

Since the juvenile justice system is supposed to be about rehabilitation, efforts are made to resolve any criminal matters in a non-judicial setting. As such, your grandchild will have what is known as a “preliminary inquiry” with a member of the juvenile court staff as the first step in the justice process. At this inquiry, the inquiry officer will ask your grandchild questions about their background and assess whether the case can be resolved outside of court. Such resolutions might include substance abuse treatment, community service, paying restitution, counseling, or probation.

Juvenile Court in Salt Lake City

If the situation is not resolved through the preliminary inquiry procedure, your grandchild’s case will proceed to the juvenile court. At this point it is extremely important that your grandchild is represented by counsel if they were not already. An experienced juvenile defense attorney like those at Overson & Bugden will know how to work with the prosecutor to try to get a deal worked out pre-trial. If no deal can be reached to your satisfaction, we know how to aggressively try a case.

There are some differences to note between juvenile court proceedings and adult court proceedings. First and foremost, all juvenile proceedings are confidential and not open to the public, so, as a grandparent, your access may be limited unless you are the child’s legal guardian. Second, all trials are done before a judge, and not a jury. Finally, the terminology is different: rather than found guilty or not guilty, the charges are “adjudicated true” or “adjudicated untrue.”

If Your Grandchild Has Been Arrested, Call Our Juvenile Defense Attorneys Today

It can be a terribly stressful experience for a grandparent to feel like the pressure is on them to help their grandchild who has been arrested. You are probably unfamiliar with the system and unsure how to act to best help your grandchild. At Overson & Bugden, our veteran juvenile defense attorneys understand the system and know how to produce positive results for you. We are here to serve as a listening ear for you and your grandchild and to guide you through the process. For a free consultation, call us today at (801) 758-2287.