One of the scariest things in the world for a parent can be finding out that your child has been arrested. Any parent’s first concern would be to protect their child’s rights and well-being, but they may not know what the best way is to do this. The juvenile justice system is an entirely separate entity from the adult criminal justice system in Utah and it can be difficult for those who are unfamiliar with its unique rules and regulations to navigate. It is vitally important for your child to have representation by a knowledgeable Salt Lake City juvenile criminal defense attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC. Below, our lawyers explain how the juvenile justice system works in Utah and how you can best assist your child through this difficult time.
Hiring a Salt Lake City Juvenile Defense Attorney on Your Child’s Behalf
When your child is arrested, one of the first things you will likely think of is the need to get them an attorney. However, you may be confused about whether you are able to hire an attorney for your child or if your child needs to be present. You absolutely have the right to hire an attorney for your child, or anyone else for that matter. However, due to attorney-client privilege, even if you hire and are paying for the attorney, you will not be entitled to know anything discussed privately between the juvenile defense attorney and your child without your child’s consent.
How Does the Juvenile Justice System Work in Salt Lake City, Utah?
As stated above, the juvenile justice system functions as an entirely separate entity from the adult justice system in Utah. The stated purpose of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate juveniles and help them avoid future contact with the law.
Juvenile Detention and Bail in Salt Lake City
Generally speaking, there is no bail in juvenile court cases. This is due to the fact that, most of the time, juveniles are released to the supervision of their parents while their underlying criminal case is dealt with. The determination of whether or not a child can be released is initially made by the juvenile intake unit after the minor’s arrest. If the child has committed a “holdable offense,” a list which is comprised of only the most serious criminal offenses, the intake unit may feel it is necessary to hold the child in detention for their own safety of the safety of their community.
Any such decision by the intake unit will be reviewed by a judge at a detention hearing within 48 hours of the minor’s detention. At this hearing, an experienced juvenile court attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC will be able to fight for your child to be released to your care. We know the arguments that the judge wants to hear and how to effectively advocate for release. If the judge chooses to hold the juvenile in detention, bail will not be available as this decision will be seen as part of the juvenile’s rehabilitation process.
In certain limited circumstances, bail may be used in juvenile cases. For the most part this occurs when the child is released but lives out of state, to ensure that the minor will return for court appearances. If the minor has a history of missing court dates, bail may also be used to ensure their compliance. Finally, for serious felonies, such as homicide, your child’s case can be transferred to the adult court system. In this instance, the case will proceed as a typical adult criminal case would, including the holding of a bail hearing.
Preliminary Inquiry Process for Juveniles
Because the goal in the juvenile justice system is rehabilitation rather than punishment, the system attempts to impose non-judicial remedies on minors as often as possible. To that end, your child will undergo a preliminary inquiry with a juvenile court official as the first step in the criminal process. At this hearing, questions regarding the juvenile’s background and lifestyle will be asked, and an assessment will be made. The official can then recommend such alternatives to court as substance abuse treatment, community service, paying restitution, counseling, or probation.
While it may be tempting to think that your child can handle such an interview on their own, the questions can often be tricky and the interview a scary experience. The lawyers at Overson Law, PLLC understand how to prep your child for this interview and coach them on the answers the juvenile court system is looking for.
Juvenile Court System in Salt Lake City
For juveniles whose crimes are severe or who are not found to be good candidates for non-judicial remedies after their preliminary inquiry, the case will proceed to the juvenile court system. Unlike the adult court system, all juvenile hearings are closed to the public and confidential. Furthermore, there are no juries in juvenile court, and all cases are decided by a judge.
It is vital at this stage that your child have an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney representing them at trial. Our attorneys at Overson Law, PLLC know how to craft the best defense to get your child’s charges dismissed. The terminology in juvenile court is whether the charges are “adjudicated true” or “adjudicated untrue,” rather than a finding of guilty or not guilty.
If Your Child Has Been Arrested, Call Our Salt Lake City Juvenile Crimes Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation
You are likely to be overcome with emotion after learning your child has been arrested. However, it is important that you take decisive action to protect your child’s rights and prevent them from facing the most serious consequences. Even though the juvenile justice system claims not to be punitive, some of the punishments — including potential time behind bars in a juvenile detention center — can be quite harsh. Retaining an experienced juvenile defense attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC is the best step to take to work to have your child’s case resolved in a timely and positive manner. Call us today at (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation.