When a minor is accused of some sort of delinquency in California, he or she may be sent to juvenile court. Of course, the nature of an incident will largely determine if a case is heard in the juvenile system or the adult criminal system. Cases that are handled in juvenile court do go through many of the same motions as criminal court, but the end results will focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment.
When a child is accused of a behavior or activity that requires him or her to go before a juvenile court judge, both the minor and his or her parents or guardians are likely to have quite a few questions. One of these might be in reference to the type of hearings that are common. There are actually seven different types of hearings that may take place in juvenile court, which are:
- Detention hearings
- Pretrial or settlement conference
- Hearings on motions
- Fitness or waiver hearing
- Jurisdiction hearing
- Disposition hearing
- Review hearings
Each of these hearings occurs for a specific purpose. For instance, a detention hearing is held so a judge can determine if a minor must remain in a detention facility or if he or she may stay at home throughout the course of his or her case. All cases are unique, and some may not require every single one of these hearings. Regardless of which ones are utilized, a minor and his or her parents or guardians should always be in attendance, and one's legal representation may also be present.
For a child and his or her parents or guardians, having to go before a California juvenile court may seem rather frightening. However, knowing beforehand what to expect can help ease any fears. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to answer any questions one might have regarding the juvenile system and will work hard to achieve the best outcome for the client.
Source: courts.ca.gov, "Guide to Juvenile Court", Accessed on Nov. 23, 2015