What to Do if Your Child is Arrested in Utah

When a child is arrested, they are not put through the same justice system as an adult. Instead, the juvenile justice system handles cases involving children.

After your child is arrested, your first question is likely about how to find your child. When an adult is taken into custody, most people understand that the first place to check is the local police station or county jail. Children are not held in the same facilities as adult offenders, and parents often have no clue where to find their kids. Children are often held in juvenile detention centers or juvenile receiving centers. Once you locate your child, you should immediately contact an experienced juvenile defense lawyer. The next steps will probably involve determining whether your child should be held in detention while awaiting a hearing, and your lawyer can help you take your child home.

Contact our Salt Lake City juvenile defense lawyers for help immediately if your child is arrested. We can help you locate your child and hopefully take them home. For a free case review, call Overson & Bugden at (801) 758-2287.

Where to Find Your Child After They Are Arrested in Utah

When a juvenile is arrested, somewhat different procedures are followed than when an adult is arrested. Children are not adults and are not held to the same standards as adults in custody. However, juveniles might still be the subject of arrest warrants. Under Utah Code §§ 80-6-202(1)-(2), juveniles can only be arrested for an offense that would be considered a felony if committed by an adult, failing to appear in court, is a danger to others, or is a runaway. Juveniles cannot be arrested for infractions or status offenses.

Your child might be held in temporary custody, depending on why they were arrested. Under Utah Code § 80-6-203(1), a child in temporary custody is held only long enough for the authorities to identify the child and their parents, and release the child to a parent or guardian. Temporary custody might be involved when a child has been arrested for running away or some other non-criminal reason. In such cases, the police will likely contact you about how and where to pick up your child.

Your child might be held in a juvenile detention center. When admitted, someone at the center will review your child’s case immediately to determine what kind of detention is appropriate. Your child might be sent to secure detention, home with you to serve home detention, or some other alternative form of detention. Children cannot be detained unless detention guidelines allow it or there is a court order and warrant for your child.

When a juvenile does not meet admission guidelines for secure detention, the authorities might take them to juvenile receiving centers. At these centers, juveniles are assessed for immediate safety and security needs, and parents are contacted. The center may also refer parents and juveniles to intervention and community resources, like counseling services. Our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers can help you retrieve your child wherever they are held.

Contacting a Lawyer After Your Child is Arrested in Utah

Once you have been notified of your child’s arrest, you should immediately contact an attorney. Ideally, you should arrange for your attorney to meet you at the detention or receiving center where your child is held. Our Utah juvenile defense lawyers can help you work to keep your child out of a detention center so you can take them home.

It is possible that your child was arrested when they should not have been. While children can be arrested for offenses that would be felonies if committed by an adult, the police might have been mistaken. Alternatively, your child might not have been a runaway but was instead lost and disoriented. An attorney can help you explain the situation to the authorities, so your child is released.

You should also have a lawyer with you to pick up your child because your child might be interrogated by law enforcement about their alleged offense. Custodial interrogation of juveniles is authorized under Utah Code § 80-6-206(2), but juveniles have the right to have an adult present. The child’s parent guardian, or “friendly adult” may be present while the child is interrogated.

A friendly adult may include an adult figure with an established relationship with the child who can provide meaningful advice. Typically, this happens when the child’s parents’ interests are adverse to the child’s. For example, parents suspected of abusing a child are not permitted to be with them during custodial interrogation. An attorney can provide guidance to your child while they speak with the police.

Preparing for Juvenile Hearings After Your Child is Arrested in Utah

Like in the adult criminal justice system, juveniles must have a preliminary hearing. According to Utah Code § 80-6-504(1), the court will turn over a juvenile to the district court for trial if the prosecutor can establish probable cause that the juvenile committed a qualifying offense and that it is not in the best interest of the juvenile and the public for the juvenile court to retain jurisdiction over the juvenile’s case.

A juvenile bound for trial in the district will be tried as if they were an adult in criminal court, except that they cannot be sentenced to capital punishment or life without parole. An attorney can help you challenge the prosecutor’s case and hopefully prove that your child should be sent home or that they belong in juvenile court.

It is important that our Ogden criminal defense attorneys keep your child out of the adult criminal justice system for several reasons. First, the adult system is harsher than the juvenile system, and the juvenile system focuses less on punishment and more on rehabilitation. Second, a juvenile bound for trial in district court might also be confined in an adult jail while awaiting trial. Confining juveniles with adults is detrimental to the juvenile’s well-being, and our team will help you fight for your child’s rights and protection.

Call Our Utah Juvenile Defense Attorneys for a Free Case Evaluation for your Child

Contact our Logan criminal defense attorneys for help immediately if your child was arrested. We can help locate your child and hopefully get them out of detention and the adult justice system. For a free case review, call Overson & Bugden at (801) 758-2287.