It is a nightmare scenario for any loving parent: getting a call that your child has been arrested. Parents will understandably be overcome with emotion at the thought of their child spending time behind bars or facing other serious punishments. However, it is important that you act right away to ensure that your child’s legal rights are being respected. An experienced Salt Lake City juvenile defense attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC knows how to advise you on the best steps to take to protect your child during this difficult time. Below, our attorneys explain the juvenile justice process in Utah.
Is There Bail in the Salt Lake City Juvenile Justice System?
Generally speaking, bail is not issued with respect to crimes committed by juveniles in Utah. This is because the juvenile justice system functions as an entirely separate entity than the adult justice system. The juvenile justice system is supposed to focus on the rehabilitation of minors, rather than punishing them for crimes. As such, most of the time, juveniles are released to their parents and not held in detention while the underlying matter is resolved. Even if child is not released, however, there is typically no option to bail them out, as the judge considers their incarceration a necessary component of their rehabilitation.
There are a few special circumstances where bail may apply to juveniles. The first is if the juvenile is charged with a serious felony, such as murder, and the case is transferred to adult court. In this case, the minor’s case will proceed in the same fashion as if they were an adult, including a bail hearing where it will be determined if bail can be set or if they minor must be detained without bail. In such a serious situation, it is vital that you have a skilled Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney representing your child’s interests from the bail hearing onwards.
Bail can also be set for juveniles who are charged with a crime and the judge determines they do not need to be detained, but the minor lives out of state. Furthermore, bail can be set if the juvenile fails to appear for one or multiple scheduled court appearances. This is done to ensure the child appears on his scheduled court dates. In these cases, a lawyer can help connect you to a bail bondsman if the bail is set too high for you to afford on your own.
How the Salt Lake City Juvenile Justice System Differs from the Adult Justice System
As noted above, the juvenile justice system in Utah functions as an entirely separate entity than the adult criminal justice system. The stated purpose of the juvenile justice system is to intervene and help the minor learn why what they did was wrong so that they do not end up in trouble with the law again. As such, this system attempts to keep the juvenile out of the courtroom and instead have them go through outside programs designed to rehabilitate them.
Juvenile Detention in Salt Lake City
Generally speaking, juveniles will be released to their parents while their matter is resolved, but there are exceptions to this rule. If the child has committed what is known as a “holdable offense,” the intake officer may decide that they need to be held at the juvenile hall. Holdable offenses are serious crimes such as assault, possession of drugs with the intent to distribute, and breaking into a home. Juvenile intake can also choose to hold a child in the juvenile hall if they have a serious criminal history or a history of not appearing on court dates.
If the juvenile intake office makes a determination that the child must be held in detention, the court must schedule a detention hearing before a judge within 48 hours of the child’s detention. At this hearing, the judge will decide if the juvenile can be released. An experienced juvenile defense attorney like the team at Overson Law, PLLC will know how to make a strong case to the judge that releasing your child to your custody while the matter is resolved is the best course of action.
Preliminary Inquiry for Juveniles in Salt Lake City
The juvenile justice system attempts to utilize non-judicial remedies in dealing with delinquent minors as often as possible. As such, before a court hearing is scheduled, juveniles will undergo what its know as a preliminary inquiry, where an intake officer will ask them questions and decided if they can impose a non-judicial penalty. Such penalties can include substance abuse treatment, community service, paying restitution, counseling, or probation.
A knowledgeable West Valley City criminal defense attorney like those at our firm will know what types of questions the intake officer will be asking and what kind of answers they will be looking for. They can prepare your child for the interview and give them the best chance of leaving a good impression and staying out of the court system.
Juvenile Court in Utah
If the crime is particularly serious or the preliminary inquiry does not go well, an “adjudication” of the juvenile will be held before a juvenile court judge. At this point, it is essential that you have a seasoned juvenile defense attorney representing your child and trying to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor. If a deal cannot be reached, the case will proceed to a trial before a judge. There are no jury trials in juvenile court. If the charges are “adjudicated true,” your child could face serious penalties including mandatory time in the juvenile detention center.
If Your Child Has Been Arrested, Call Our Salt Lake City Juvenile Defense Attorneys
While the stated goal of the juvenile justice system is the rehabilitation of your child, in reality, the consequences they may face after being arrested can be quite scary and harsh. Even if they are not incarcerated in the juvenile detention center, having to face down a long interview with a state official or appear before a judge can be a traumatizing experience. Having a skilled, compassionate attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC by your child’s side to walk them through every step of the process will be a huge help. We know how to work to bring your child’s case to the most successful possible resolution. Call us today at (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation.