Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Juvenile Detention Center | What Is It Like in California?


Juvenile hall is a form of short-term detention for young people who have been arrested for various delinquent acts. These secure facilities house underage offenders while they await legal action on their case or placement in a long-term counseling or rehabilitation program. If your child has allegedly broken the law and is facing the consequences, navigating the fast-moving court process can be stressful. Here’s what you need to know about juvenile hall in Orange County.

What Is a Juvenile Detention Center?

While you may hear the phrases “juvenile hall” and “juvenile detention” used interchangeably, there’s a subtle difference between the two. Juvenile hall is a more temporary custody for a young person waiting for a court to handle their case. In contrast, a juvenile detention center is a longer-term placement for young people whose alleged offenses are more significant, leading a judge to order confinement.

Youth in juvenile detention have the constitutional right to:
  • Due process
  • Be free from cruel and unusual punishment
  • Equal protection
  • Free speech
  • Free exercise of religion
  • Counsel

What Happens in Juvenile Detention?

In general, most juvenile detention centers offer various programs and evidence-based services to support residents’ physical, emotional and social development. They have dormitories where the residents sleep, along with dining and recreational areas. Detained youth have opportunities to go outdoors, engage in physical exercise, participate in a range of recreational activities and practice their religion.

Facilities also have on-site medical and mental health facilities and classrooms where school-aged youth can continue to receive an education. Juvenile detention center staff are responsible for ensuring juveniles adhere to consistent daily routines and attend counseling as necessary to help with issues such as drug use or anger management.

Understanding California’s Juvenile Court System

In general, the law treats underage offenders differently from adults. For example, “status offenses” like truancy and curfew violations only constitute criminal acts when committed by minors aged 12 to 18. Juvenile court is where all cases of felonies, misdemeanors and status offenses allegedly committed by minors get heard. Crucially, most California prosecutors try to avoid pressing criminal charges, and instead try to direct young offenders to beneficial community programming.

In the California juvenile court system, the judge does not rule a minor guilty or innocent. Instead, if a judge finds the minor committed the alleged crime beyond a reasonable doubt, they will sustain the petition filed by the district attorney.

There are several different dispositions, or sentences, available in juvenile court. Informal probation is the mildest of these. The minor does not need to admit any allegations of wrongdoing, and their charges get dismissed when they successfully complete their program. At the other end of the spectrum is commitment to California’s Division of Juvenile Justice, which provides treatment and services to youthful offenders up to the age of 25 with more extensive criminal backgrounds.

Your Experienced Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney

As a former district attorney, Katie Walsh now uses her extensive legal expertise to provide families with the best possible results in every case. If your child is facing charges, you should have a knowledgeable attorney by your side to defend their case and walk you through the ins and outs of every stage of the process. Don’t entrust your family’s future to an attorney who lacks juvenile court experience. For your complimentary consultation, contact us today.

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