Parents whose child has been arrested are often scared, confused and anxious to get information.  If your child was arrested in Monterey County, or was cited with a "notice to appear", call our office now to speak with a juvenile crimes lawyer now.  Your child may have been taken into custody, cited with a notice to appear in Salinas or taken to a probation officer.  Regardless, you need to be armed with the knowledge of how juvenile delinquency court works and the laws that apply to your child's case.  You need a Monterey County juvenile defense attorney who knows the system. 

Monterey County Juvenile Delinquency Court

The goal of juvenile delinquency court, as opposed to adult court, is rehabilitation rather than punishment.  The focus is on "care, treatment and guidance" that is consistent with the minor's best interest while holding them accountable for their behavior.  (Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) 202).  But, the two major differences between juvenile court and adult court are that there are no jury trials and there is no option for release on bail. However, that does not mean the minor must stay in custody. 

Obtaining Release From Custody

There are often ways to have a minor released from custody despite the absence of bail.

The first court hearing a minor in custody will have is called a "detention hearing" where the judge will decide if the minor can be released (possibly on an ankle bracelet) or must remain in custody.

The judge will consider whether:

  • the minor has violated an order of the juvenile court, or
  • the minor has escaped from the commitment of the juvenile court, or
  • the minor is a flight risk, or
  • it is a matter of immediate and urgent necessity for the protection of the minor that the minor be detained, or
  • it is reasonably necessary for the protection of the person or property of another that the minor be detained.

The judge will ask for input from the district attorney, the probation officer, the minor, the minor's attorney and the minor's parents.

As a passionate Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney, Julie Crawford will use this opportunity to persuade the judge that her minor client is not a danger to himself or to his community and does not fit into the other categories that require custody.

Contact a local juvenile defense attorney who can challenge the legality and necessity of holding your child in custody. 

When Must a Minor be Taken to Court Following Arrest?

When a minor is taken into custody there are specific timelines that must be followed.

Once a minor is in custody, the petition (the complaint in adult court) must be filed within forty-eight hours.  And, in most cases, the minor must be brought to court within forty-eight hours of arriving in custody. 

Once the petition is filed, the minor must appear before a judge by the end of the next court day excluding weekends and holidays.  (WIC 632

Further, if a minor is in custody on suspicion of most non-violent misdemeanors, then she or he must be taken to court within forty-eight hours, excluding weekends and holidays. 

If these timelines are not followed, the juvenile court judge must order the minor released from custody.

Police Questioning of a Child

We always advise never talking to the police without an attorney present.  Under WIC 625.6 a youth seventeen years or younger "shall" consult with an attorney prior to undergoing "custodial interrogation".  This means that if a child is in custody and the police are questioning him/her, the police must first have that minor speak with legal counsel.  If the police fail to do so, the minor's statements may be inadmissible against him or her in court.  We always recommend that children, who don't have the mental maturity of an adult, make no statements at all to the police, especially without counsel present.  You never know how words will be taken out of context or twisted.  Additionally, if the child has a mental disability they could misunderstand police questions which could cause serious long-lasting ramifications.

Is Diversion Possible?

Pre-filing diversion is an option for some minors.  It allows the juvenile court proceedings to be suspended while the minor remains under the supervision of probation.  The minor may have to perform community service or engage in other programs as probation requires.

Diversion is designed to prevent further involvement in the justice system for youth who have not previously been declared a ward of the juvenile court and who meet other criteria set forth in WIC 790.  Depending upon the seriousness of the charge, and the minor's history, diversion may be an option for the minor. 

To discuss the possibility of diversion for your child call a Monterey County juvenile defense attorney now.

How Will a Juvenile Defense Attorney Represent My Child?

An attorney representing a minor in delinquency court must take a holistic approach to the case.  This means that we mustn't solely defend against charges.  We have to look at the minor's entire life circumstances.  This will often include looking into a child's school records, medical and mental health records.  We do this because if the minor has had any kind of family struggles, problems in school, illnesses or disabilities, these issues need to be addressed and, if helpful to the case, brought to the court's attention.  Such information can often be used to convince a judge to release a child from custody, to lessen a sentence or, in very serious cases, to opt against transfer to adult court.

Parent's Rights and Obligations

Parents have rights too. The police must inform parents or guardians as soon as your child is in custody and must tell you where your child is and what their rights are. However, as a parent or guardian, you also have legal obligations, such as financial responsibilities for any damage caused by your child and paying restitution to victims for their losses.

Juvenile crimes lawyer, Julie Crawford, has successfully earned a reputation as an outstanding advocate with a proven track record for her clients. She has the knowledge and experience to get results following the arrest of a juvenile offender in Monterey County.  Call now for a free consultation.  (831)783-0222.

Top-Rated, Award-Winning Criminal Defense Attorneys


The Crawford Law Firm has been committed to its clients for over fourteen years. Our focus is DUI and criminal cases in Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara counties.

Free consultations are by appointment and we here to ease your mind and fight for you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.