Kids running afoul of the law is not uncommon. Those arrested and entered into the criminal justice system are referred to as “juvenile delinquents.” These are minors between the ages of 10 and 18. It could be distressing to learn that your child has violated the law as a parent or guardian. But as powerless and overwhelming as it may be for you, it is refreshing to note that the California laws protect your rights.

Understanding your parental rights in a juvenile case is vital in counseling your child adequately. Importantly, you will be in a position to seek qualified legal assistance for your child and be present at the court for hearing of the case leveled against him or her.

At The LA Criminal Defense Law Firm, we are ready to offer you expert guidance on what rights you have and how you can use them for your child’s case’s best outcome. This article explains parents’ rights and obligations concerning juvenile delinquency cases in Los Angeles.

An overview of What You Need to Know When Your Child is Arrested

When the arresting officers apprehend your child, the chances are that you immediately feel powerless. In most cases, the child is also vulnerable, especially since they may not fully understand or grasp the extent of the accused and arrested acts. As a parent or guardian, there are several things that you should know to have better chances of offering support to your child during such difficult times.

After arresting your child, the police can;

  • Record the arrest, and allow the child to accompany you home
  • Take your child to a protective shelter that will offer care and counseling
  • “Cite back” your child by summoning him or her to the police station
  • Hand you a notice that requires you and your child to appear at the law enforcement agency. You need to carefully go through this notice so that you are acquainted with the sermons therein
  • Place your child in “detention,” referred to as a juvenile hall. In the detention, your child has a right to call you or a lawyer as he or she is permitted to place at least two phone calls in the first hour of their arrest

The law enforcement officers must inform your child of their legal rights under the California law (referred to as “Miranda rights”). These rights are; that he or she can remain silent; whatever he or she says may be cited against them in a court of law, and; that he or she has a right to have legal representation. Note that you have a right to ask your child if they were informed of these vital rights when the law enforcement officers arrested them and that in case you cannot afford a lawyer, the court can appoint one for you.

The police are obligated to inform you immediately they arrest your child. Under the law, you should be told;

  1. Where your child is being held
  2. Why they have been arrested
  3. If they have been informed of their rights and that the law protects their rights

As earlier mentioned, you may not need to bring your attorney. A lawyer can be assigned to your child by the court to handle the case leveled against them in the juvenile court.

What Rights do Parents have in Juvenile Cases?

Parents and guardians to kids taken in the juvenile delinquency criminal justice system have specific rights. These rights are protected by several statutes as discussed here;

The Right of Being Notified of the Arrest and Detention of your Child

As the parent, you have a right to be notified of your child’s arrest and detention. It is a fundamental right that must not be overlooked or ignored, as the child’s arrest and detention render him or her bereft of parental guidance and care. It also ensures that you are reliably informed of the child’s custody to prepare appropriately and subsequently offer help to him or her, as the arrest will have you directly involved in the case’s proceedings.

According to the California Welfare and Institutions Code in section 627, the law provides that once a minor has been arrested and detained, the arresting officer must immediately take action to inform the parent or guardian of the minor. The officer must further notify the parent or guardian or the responsible adult of the location where the child is detained.

The second part of this act states that the officer must inform the child of their right to access or make two phone calls. The minor’s first call will be completed to the parent, guardian, or responsible adult or employer, and the second call may be made to a lawyer by the minor.

The same code in section 290.1 sets the process that must be undertaken if it is determined that the probation officer should detain your child in the juvenile hall. The officer must petition the juvenile court so that the matter’s hearing is set on the calendar, and a notice will be issued for the same by the court.

As the parent, you have a right to be issued with such a notice, as it must be issued to the minor’s mother, to the presumed or alleged father or fathers or the guardian or responsible adult.

The Right of Being informed of the Child’s Rights as Provided for in the Constitution

Your child’s rights if he or she violates the law are provided for and protected in the constitution. As a parent or guardian, you also possess certain rights in such a case. Both you and your child have the right to be informed immediately of such rights once an arrest is effected against them.

Section 627.5 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code spells out legal grounds that constitute this statute. The statute states that once minors are presented before a probation officer as per the guidelines in section 626 (a child falls under the definition of a person or persons described as per sections 601 or section 602), then the officer must inform the minor immediately that whatever they say could be cited against them. The same advice must be given to the parent or guardian by the probation officer.

The law enforcement officer should inform you that you have certain constitutional rights. Your child also has to be told by the probation officer of their rights, as per the law.  Such rights include the right to keep silent, the right of the minor to be represented by counsel while being interrogated, and that your child is entitled to a counsel appointed if you cannot afford one.

Suppose you agree to a counsel selected for your child. In that case, the juvenile court’s presiding judge shall be formally informed by the probation officer of your request, and, as per section 634, you shall have a legal representative appointed for you.

The Right to Have an Attorney Represent your Child

While you don’t need to have your attorney representing your child in a juvenile court, it is your right to know that you have options. As earlier discussed, if you cannot afford an attorney, the probation officer will request the judge to have one assigned to your child. The right is covered in section 627.5 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code.

During the Court Hearings, you Have a Right to be Present

During the juvenile court hearings, you must be part of the proceedings as the parent or guardian to the accused minor. This critical gesture by the parent can be viewed as offering moral support to the child and reassuring them that all will be well. As per the law, you have a right to be present at such hearings throughout, if you chose so.

According to California Rule of Court, as laid down in section 5.530, it is provided that juvenile court hearings are separately done as special hearings in a special seating. There shall be no separate matters discussed or heard by the presiding judge during the hearings, and that only the parent, the guardian, or the relative to the child can be present. This means that only the child and all parents may be present in the court, granting you the right to be there. This rule may not apply if, for whatever reason, your parental rights were ended.

While in the court, you have a right to understand everything that will be happening entirely. In most cases, you should be fully briefed so that you can grasp the extent and terms used in juvenile court proceedings. You need to keep asking your attorney to explain things to you, as you have a right to do so.

Additionally, you can request an interpreter if you do not understand the language spoken in court. If your first language isn’t English and you find yourself lost due to the language barrier, you have a right to request an interpreter through the juvenile court judge.

You have the right to have Your Child’s Hearing done in Confidence

A minor cannot be tried in the same manner as an adult, to safeguard their future and protect their rights. A juvenile court’s role is to enable the child to abide by the law and grow to become a productive community member. The court works to address the child’s best interests when they find themselves afoul with the law. As the parent, you have a right to have the court proceedings carried out in confidence for the child’s best interests.

As per section 5.530 of the California Rules of Court, the public is restricted from admission to the juvenile court. The rule sets down the specific people that the court would deem admissible during the hearing, and such people must have a legitimate and direct interest in what’s before the court.

A hearing conducted under section 602 grants you the right to request the court to admit any other persons. However, the child or any other person may object to having additional people in court if the grounds legitimately imply that such a presence would prejudice the case.

Remember, the right to have the case leveled against your child heard in confidence is not absolute and is awarded in consideration to several court regulations. Your attorney will point out all the possible scenarios to use so that you fully understand who and who cannot be part of the hearings.

You have the Right to Check and Inspect the Court File.

As per California laws in Rule of Court 5.552, as the parent or guardian to the accused minor, you have a right to inspect the file compiled and presented in court. You can reasonably request to check all probation records concerning your child. Under this statute, you are allowed to petition the court to grant you the right to access and review the juvenile case file for your child.

In the application, you must show why you need to access the files, the specific files you are seeking, their relevance to the case, and your role as far as the child is concerned. The court shall review your petition, and if it determines that your petition lacks merit, it may summarily dismiss it. If good cause is shown, then you are granted the right to review the files under protective orders or otherwise. In so doing, the court seeks to balance the child’s interests, your interests, and that of the public.

Pending Case Outcome, the Right to Take Your Child Home

You may want to set terms for your child’s release and take him or her home, as the case remains active at the juvenile court. However, this right is not direct, and the judge has to balance and look at some critical factors before permitting you. The judge will look at the interests of the child and those of the general public.

As per section 628 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code, when your child is presented to the probation officer, the officer investigates the case’s circumstances. Then they decide whether to place the child under the custody or immediately release him or her to your custody pending the hearing of the case.

Even with these rights, you have certain obligations that you must meet when your child is facing juvenile delinquency charges. Some of these may include paying restitution or reimbursing the state. Let us look at them in detail.

Parental Obligations in their Child’s Juvenile Case

According to California laws, a parent to an accused minor has an obligation to specific requirements during their child’s juvenile case. In most instances, the responsibilities are mainly on the costs associated with the case and the disposition. These are;

The Costs that the County Incurred on Food, Medical Expenses, and Clothing

According to the California Welfare and Institutions Code in section 903, you have obligations to cater to the costs that were incurred by your child during detention. These costs are on the child’s food, clothing, personal effects, and any advanced medical expenses. The fees shouldn’t be more than $30 for a day. If your child has an individual cover, medical expenses cannot be forwarded to you.

Electronic Surveillance Costs

Section 903.2 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code places individual direct costs to you. The statute provides that you are obligated to settle fees related to probation supervision, including home supervision, or surveillance conducted electronically, as directed by the court. The court will place these liabilities on the father, the mother, and the spouse or any other person who supports the child.

The court shall place liability on you based on your ability to pay the costs. While determining your ability to pay, the court shall look at your income and the people who are dependent on that income before arriving at payment terms. The county may also consider the family’s obligations, which may enable or not enable them to pay.

Legal Services Costs

When your child is facing charges, you have a right to legal representation from a qualified attorney. However, you may not have to bring your lawyer and can request to have a lawyer assigned to the case facing the minor. Such a request, made formerly through the juvenile court judge, will see an attorney appointed, and the costs passed to you. These are the costs of legal services.

Under Section 903.1 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code, you are liable to pay the legal fees incurred during the juvenile proceedings. These costs are to be settled by the father, the mother or spouse, or any other person to whom the child is dependent. The fees cover the services provided by the attorney appointed by the juvenile court judge, who was representing your child.

Pay Restitution

The case leveled against your child might involve him or her damaging personal property. For instance, your child might have engaged in smashing and destroying a neighbor’s windows. He got arrested and now faces charges at the juvenile court. The victim of the crime may press charges that will involve settling the costs for repairing the windows. Such pleadings will place direct financial obligations on you as the parent or guardian, as restitution for the damaged property.

As per Section 730.7 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code, if a child is supposed to pay restitution or face other penalties, the parent or the guardian is obligated to settle the same. The inability to pay is a matter that the court can consider or rule, per the limits set out in the law.

The court will determine your incapacity to pay based on your present and future earnings, the people dependent on your present earnings, and the obligations you have as a family, such as food, rent, and clothing.

Further, you must show to the court that you are indeed unable to pay restitution based on the above factors. Other factors that may be presented in court for your inability to pay may include that you were never given any indication of potential payment of the restitution, fines, or penalty assessment. You may sufficiently plead that you weren’t in court when the proceedings took place or at the time the court entered the admission and sustaining of the restitution, penalty assessments, or fines.

As pertains to the above fines, their payment is subject to your ability to pay. You have a right to petition the court through your attorney to be lenient if you cannot pay the fines. The important thing is to understand that you have rights, and you should invoke any of them during the juvenile case against your child.

Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me

If your child is arrested for juvenile delinquency, things might spin out of hand quickly for you and your child. As a parent, you possess specific rights spelled out in the constitution, and you should use them appropriately. Some of these rights might be complex and confusing. Without understanding them, you may not stand a better chance to support your child and act in their interest. You may need a criminal defense lawyer’s services to help you fully grasp your rights and use them.

At the LA Criminal Defense Law Firm, we are committed to explaining and simplifying these rights for you. We have extensive expertise in juvenile delinquency cases in Los Angeles. We have seasoned lawyers ready to assist you. If your child faces a juvenile delinquency case, do not hesitate to call us at 310-935-1675 and speak with a legal representative.