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My Child Was Arrested, Now What?

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It can be a scary experience to learn that your child was arrested. A criminal charge can affect your child’s future, and you may worry about the potential consequences that he or she may face. An arrest can also be a traumatic event, and you may worry about your child’s wellbeing. In these situations, it is important to understand what to expect and to seek help as soon as possible. 

Will My Child Be Detained After an Arrest?

When a child is arrested, the arresting officer will decide whether or not to send a child to juvenile jail. In most cases, children are sent home to their parents following an arrest but may face juvenile detention if he or she is convicted. If the officer decides to detain your child immediately, your child must be given a detention hearing by the end of the next court day. At this hearing, the judge will decide whether to continue to detain your child or to release him or her to your custody.

Your Child’s Rights During an Arrest

Your child has certain rights during his or her arrest and in juvenile court. It is important to be aware of these rights to protect your child’s best interests. 

  • Your child has the right to make a phone call after his or her arrest.
  • Your child has the right to hire an attorney to defend his or her best interests in juvenile court.
  • Your child has the right to receive a notice of all charges that he or she faces.
  • Your child has the right to asset his or her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, meaning that he or she has the right to remain silent. 
  • The police must read your child his or her Miranda Rights prior to arresting your child. If the police arrest your child without reading these rights, any statements or testimony provided by your child will become inadmissible in court. 

What to Expect After a Child’s Arrest

The juvenile court process begins after a child is arrested and processed. The police will turn your child’s case over to the prosecutor, who will decide whether or not to file charges. At this stage, the prosecutor may choose to either file charges, transfer the case to an alternative sentencing program such as diversion, or drop the charges entirely. 

If charges are filed against your child, he or she will receive a notice to appear at an arraignment hearing. During this hearing, a judge will read your child’s charges and your child will need to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. The case will then proceed to pretrial hearings and negotiations; most juvenile cases resolve during this stage.

If your child’s case does not resolve earlier, the case will culminate in a trial. In Washington, juvenile trials are decided by a juvenile court judge. These trials must be held within 30 days if your child is detained, or 60 days if your child is not detained. The judge will then decide whether your child is guilty of the crime or whether to dismiss the case. 

If your child is facing arrest, it is important to remain calm and speak to a Washington juvenile defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can defend your child’s side of his or her case and work toward the best possible outcome. Contact a juvenile defense lawyer after your child’s arrest to discuss his or her legal options.

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