Rights of Parents in California Juvenile Delinquency Cases

As the parent of a child caught up in the California criminal justice system, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But the good news is that you have rights.

You have the right to be informed when your child has been taken into custody, to counsel your child to talk to an attorney and to be present at your child's court hearings.

On the flip side, you may also have certain obligations.  Subject to your ability to pay, these include an obligation to reimburse the state for the cost of your child's care and support while in detention and to pay restitution to the victim.

In this article, Our California Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorneys provide an overview of the rights and obligations of parents in juvenile delinquency cases.1 We cover:

1. What rights do parents have with respect to their child's juvenile case?

2. What obligations do parents have in these cases?

If you have further questions after reading this article, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group for a consultation.

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As a parent, you do not have a constitutional right to be with your child during a police interrogation.  However, minors have their own constitutional rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.  A minor can request to have a parent present during questioning and whether or not the request is granted may bear on the issue of whether incriminating statements were voluntary made.  Please see our related article Coerced Confessions in California for more information.

1. What rights do parents have with respect to their child's juvenile case?

As the parent of a child in the California juvenile delinquency system, you have certain rights.  These include:

  • The right to be notified that your child has been arrested and detained2
  • The right to be informed of your child's constitutional rights3
  • The right to request an attorney for your child4
  • The right to be present at your child's juvenile court hearings5
  • In most cases, the right for your child's hearing to be kept confidential6
  • The right to inspect your child's juvenile court file, including probation reports7
 
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In terms of whether or not you have the "right" to take your child home with you pending outcome of the case, the judge will balance a number of factors, including the need to protect the community and the need to protect the minor.

Please see our related article Detention Hearings in California Juvenile Court Cases for more information about these factors.8

Let's look at a few examples.

Example:  Mary is arrested for allegedly violating California Penal Code Section 422 criminal threats for threatening to kill Angela.  The police take Mary to Orange County Juvenile Hall.

Mary is 16 years old.  Under California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 627, the police are required to take immediate steps to notify Mary's guardian that she is at Orange County Juvenile Hall.

Further, Mary is entitled to call both her guardian and an attorney.  If she calls a California Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney, the lawyer can visit Mary at Orange County Juvenile Hall and discuss the case against her for allegedly violating California Penal Code Section 422 criminal threats.

Mary's California Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney also can get straight to work negotiating with the probation officer and the prosecutor to try to get the charges dismissed or reduced so Mary can go home.

Example:  Fifteen-year-old Rashad was arrested for violating California Penal Code Section 602 trespass and California Penal Code Section 594 vandalism.  At his adjudication hearing (trial) at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall & Court, the judge found the charges to be true and sustained the petition against Rashad.

Rashad's mother does not believe the charges are true.  She believes that at the time of the incident he was skateboarding with friends in another area.

Rashad's mother asks to see the juvenile case file regarding her son's case.  Under California Rule of Court 5.552, Rashad's mother is entitled to inspect the file.  In Rashad's case, the file includes the probation report and a videotape of the Penal Code Section 602 trespass and California Penal Code Section 594 vandalism violations.

Unfortunately, the video is clear that Rashad was not skateboarding at the time of the incident.  The video shows Rashad and his friends smashing windows at a warehouse in downtown Los Angeles.

At Rashad's disposition (sentencing) hearing, he is made a ward of the court and sent home on probation.  As part of his sentence, Rashad is required to attend classes about the costs associated with vandalism and to pay restitution to the warehouse owner.

2. What obligations do parents have in these cases?

Parents also have obligations with respect to costs associated with their child's juvenile delinquency case and disposition.  These include:

  • Costs incurred by the county for the minor's food, clothing and medical expenses while detained9
  • Cost of electronic surveillance10
  • Cost of legal services11
  • Restitution12
"Section 730.7 is intended to transfer the vicarious liability policy endorsed by Civil Code section 1714.1 to juvenile court proceedings, in part, so that victims of a crime committed by a minor may seek restitution from the parents without the need for a separate independent civil action....The statute reflects an intentional departure from the common-law rule that parents are not ordinarily liable for the torts of their minor child.  Instead, it adopts a policy that, as between innocent third parties and the parents of a minor child causing damage through willful misconduct, the parents should bear the burden of responsibility of the loss in order to ensure recovery of any losses incurred."
-- California Court of Appeal opinion In re Jeffrey M, 141 Cal.App.4th 1017 (2006)

Payment of these amounts is subject to the ability of the parents to pay them.

Let's return to one of our examples from above.

Example:  In addition to attending classes about vandalism, the terms of Rashad's probation include restitution.  He is required to pay $1600 to the warehouse owner to compensate him for economic loss.

Rashad is a minor and Rashad's mother is liable along with Rashad for payment of the $1600.  That means if Rashad does not come up with the money Rashad's mother is legally on the hook for paying it.

Our California Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help...

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If you or loved one is charged with a juvenile crime and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.

We invite you to review our related articles article Juvenile Criminal Defense in California, Fitness Hearings in California, Adjudication Hearings (Trials) in California Juvenile Case, Disposition (Sentencing) Hearings in California Juvenile Court, Probation in California Juvenile Court Cases, The Juvenile Court Process in California, Sealing Your California Juvenile Records, Juvenile Crimes that Count as Strikes under California's Three Strikes Law, Eastlake Juvenile Hall & Court, Barry Nidorf (Sylmar) Juvenile Hall & Court, Ventura County Juvenile Hall Facility & Justice Center, and San Bernardino Central Juvenile Hall.

Helpful links:

Prison Law Office

Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice

Ella Baker Center Books Not Bars Campaign

Youth Law Center

Juvenile Law Center

Burns Institute For Juvenile Justice & Equity

Youth Justice Coalition

Healing Justice Coalition

Fair Sentencing for Youth

Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles

References:

1 Our California Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorneys have local Los Angeles law offices in Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Pomona, Torrance, Van Nuys, West Covina and Whittier.  We have additional law offices conveniently located throughout the state in Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.

2 California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 627 provides:  "(a) When an officer takes a minor before a probation officer at a juvenile hall or to any other place of confinement pursuant to this article, he shall take immediate steps to notify the minor's parent, guardian, or a responsible relative that such minor is in custody and the place where he is being held.  (b) Immediately after being taken to a place of confinement pursuant to this article and, except where physically impossible, no later than one hour after he has been taken into custody, the minor shall be advised and has the right to make at least two telephone calls from the place where he is being held, one call completed to his parent or guardian, a responsible relative, or his employer, and another call completed to an attorney.  The calls shall be at public expense, if the calls are completed to telephone numbers within the local calling area, and in the presence of a public officer or employee. Any public officer or employee who willfully deprives a minor taken into custody of his right to make such telephone calls is guilty of a misdemeanor."  SEE ALSO California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 290.1 ("If the probation officer or social worker determines that the child shall be retained in custody, he or she shall immediately file a petition pursuant to Section 332 with the clerk of the juvenile court, who shall set the matter for hearing on the detention hearing calendar.  The probation officer or social worker shall serve notice as prescribed in this section.  (a) Notice shall be given to the following persons whose whereabouts are known or become known prior to the initial petition hearing:  (1) The mother.  (2) The father or fathers, presumed and alleged.  (3) The legal guardian or guardians..."

3 California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 627.5 provides:  "In any case where a minor is taken before a probation officer pursuant to the provisions of Section 626 and it is alleged that such minor is a person described in Section 601 or 602, the probation officer shall immediately advise the minor and his parent or guardian that anything the minor says can be used against him and shall advise them of the minor's constitutional rights, including his right to remain silent, his right to have counsel present during any interrogation, and his right to have counsel appointed if he is unable to afford counsel.  If the minor or his parent or guardian requests counsel, the probation officer shall notify the judge of the juvenile court of such request and counsel for the minor shall be appointed pursuant to Section 634."

4 California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 627.5, id.

5 California Rule of Court 5.530 provides:  "Persons present (a) Separate session; restriction on persons present (�� 345, 675) All juvenile court proceedings must be heard at a special or separate session of the court, and no other matter may be heard at that session. No person on trial, awaiting trial, or accused of a crime, other than a parent, de facto parent, guardian, or relative of the child, may be present at the hearing, except while testifying as a witness...(b) Persons present (�� 280, 290.1, 290.2, 332, 347, 349, 353, 656, 658, 677, 679, 681, 700; 25 U.S.C. �� 1911, 1931-1934) The following persons are entitled to be present: (1) The child; (2) All parents, de facto parents, Indian custodians, and guardians of the child or, if no parent or guardian resides within the state or, if their places of residence are not known; (A)Any adult relatives residing within the county or, if none; (B)Any adult relatives residing nearest the court; (3) Counsel representing the child or the parent, de facto parent, guardian, adult relative, or Indian custodian or the tribe of an Indian child; (4) The probation officer or social worker; (5) The prosecuting attorney, as provided in (c) and (d); (6) Any CASA volunteer; (7) A representative of the Indian child's tribe; (8) The court clerk; (9) The official court reporter, as provided in rule 5.532; (10) At the court's discretion, a bailiff; and (11) Any other persons entitled to notice of the hearing under sections 290.1 and 290.2... (c) Presence of prosecuting attorney-section 601-602 proceedings (� 681) In proceedings brought under section 602, the prosecuting attorney must appear on behalf of the people of the State of California. In proceedings brought under section 601, the prosecuting attorney may appear to assist in ascertaining and presenting the evidence if: (1) The child is represented by counsel; and (2) The court consents to or requests the prosecuting attorney's presence, or the probation officer requests and the court consents to the prosecuting attorney's presence. (Subd (c) amended effective January 1, 2007.) (d) Presence of petitioner's attorney-section 300 proceedings (� 317) In proceedings brought under section 300, the county counsel or district attorney must appear and represent the petitioner if the parent or guardian is represented by counsel and the juvenile court requests the attorney's presence. (Subd (d) amended effective January 1, 2007.)  (e) Others who may be admitted (�� 346, 676, 676.5) Except as provided below, the public must not be admitted to a juvenile court hearing.  The court may admit those whom the court deems to have a direct and legitimate interest in the case or in the work of the court. (1) If requested by a parent or guardian in a hearing under section 300, and consented to or requested by the child, the court may permit others to be present. (2) In a hearing under section 602: (A) If requested by the child and a parent or guardian who is present, the court may admit others. (B) Up to two family members of a prosecuting witness may attend to support the witness, as authorized by Penal Code section 868.5. (C) Except as provided in section 676(b), members of the public must be admitted to hearings concerning allegations of the offenses stated in section 676(a). (D) A victim of an offense alleged to have been committed by the child who is the subject of the petition, and up to two support persons chosen by the victim, are entitled to attend any hearing regarding the offense. (E) Any persons, including the child, may move to exclude a victim or a support person and must demonstrate a substantial probability that overriding interests will be prejudiced by the presence of the individual sought to be excluded. On such motion, the court must consider reasonable alternatives to the exclusion and must make findings as required under section 676.5."

6 California Rule of Court 5.530, id.

7 California Rule of Court 5.552.

8 See also California Welfare & institutions Code section 628 (for pre-detention hearing detainment criteria):  "(a) Upon delivery to the probation officer of a minor who has been taken into temporary custody under the provisions of this article, the probation officer shall immediately investigate the circumstances of the minor and the facts surrounding his or her being taken into custody and shall immediately release the minor to the custody of his or her parent, legal guardian, or responsible relative unless it can be demonstrated upon the evidence before the court that continuance in the home is contrary to the minor's welfare and one or more of the following conditions exist:  (1) The minor is in need of proper and effective parental care or control and has no parent, legal guardian, or responsible relative; or has no parent, legal guardian, or responsible relative willing to exercise or capable of exercising that care or control; or has no parent, legal guardian, or responsible relative actually exercising that care or control.  (2) The minor is destitute or is not provided with the necessities of life or is not provided with a home or suitable place of abode.  (3) The minor is provided with a home which is an unfit place for him or her by reason of neglect, cruelty, depravity or physical abuse by either of his or her parents, or by his or her legal guardian or other person in whose custody or care he or she is entrusted.  (4) Continued detention of the minor is a matter of immediate and urgent necessity for the protection of the minor or reasonable necessity for the protection of the person or property of another.  (5) The minor is likely to flee the jurisdiction of the court.  (6) The minor has violated an order of the juvenile court. (7) The minor is physically dangerous to the public because of a mental or physical deficiency, disorder or abnormality."

9 California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 903 provides:  "(a) The father, mother, spouse, or other person liable for the support of a minor, the estate of that person, and the estate of the minor, shall be liable for the reasonable costs of support of the minor while the minor is placed, or detained in, or committed to, any institution or other place pursuant to Section 625 or pursuant to an order of the juvenile court.  However, a county shall not levy charges for the costs of support of a minor detained pursuant to Section 625 unless, at the detention hearing, the juvenile court determines that detention of the minor should be continued, the petition for the offense for which the minor is detained is subsequently sustained, or the minor agrees to a program of supervision pursuant to Section 654.  The liability of these persons and estates shall be a joint and several liability.  (b) The county shall limit the charges it seeks to impose to the reasonable costs of support of the minor and shall exclude any costs of incarceration, treatment, or supervision for the protection of society and the minor and the rehabilitation of the minor.  In the event that court-ordered child support paid to the county pursuant to subdivision (a) exceeds the amount of the costs authorized by this subdivision and subdivision (a), the county shall either hold the excess in trust for the minor's future needs pursuant to Section 302.52 of Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations or, with the approval of the minor's caseworker or probation officer, pay the excess directly to the minor.  (c) It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this subdivision to protect the fiscal integrity of the county, to protect persons against whom the county seeks to impose liability from excessive charges, to ensure reasonable uniformity throughout the state in the level of liability being imposed, and to ensure that liability is imposed only on persons with the ability to pay.  In evaluating a family's financial ability to pay under this section, the county shall take into consideration the family's income, the necessary obligations of the family, and the number of persons dependent upon this income.  Except as provided in paragraphs (1), (2), (3), and (4), "costs of support" as used in this section means only actual costs incurred by the county for food and food preparation, clothing, personal supplies, and medical expenses, not to exceed a combined maximum cost of thirty dollars ($30) per day, except that: (1) The maximum cost of thirty dollars ($30) per day shall be adjusted every third year beginning January 1, 2012, to reflect the percentage change in the calendar year annual average of the California Consumer Price Index, All Urban Consumers, published by the Department of Industrial Relations, for the three-year period.  (2) No cost for medical expenses shall be imposed by the county until the county has first exhausted any eligibility the minor may have under private insurance coverage, standard or medically indigent Medi-Cal coverage, and the Robert W. Crown California Children's Services Act (Article 2 (commencing with Section 248) of Chapter 2 of Part 1 of Division 1 of the Health and Safety Code).  (3) In calculating the cost of medical expenses, the county shall not charge in excess of 100 percent of the AFDC fee-for-service average Medi-Cal payment for that county for that fiscal year as calculated by the State Department of Health Services; however, if a minor has extraordinary medical or dental costs that are not met under any of the coverages listed in paragraph (2), the county may impose these additional costs.  (4) For those placements of a minor subject to this section in which an AFDC-FC grant is made, the local child support agency shall, subject to Sections 17550 and 17552 of the Family Code, seek an order pursuant to Section 17400 of the Family Code and the statewide child support guideline in effect in Article 2 (commencing with Section 4050) of Chapter 2 of Part 2 of Division 9 of the Family Code.  For purposes of determining the correct amount of support of a minor subject to this section, the rebuttable presumption set forth in Section 4057 of the Family Code is applicable. This paragraph shall be implemented consistent with subdivision (a) of Section 17415 of the Family Code.  (d) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), the father, mother, spouse, or other person liable for the support of the minor, the estate of that person, or the estate of the minor, shall not be liable for the costs described in this section if a petition to declare the minor a dependent child of the court pursuant to Section 300 is dismissed at or before the jurisdictional hearing.  (e) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), the father, mother, spouse, or other person liable for the support of a minor shall not be liable for the costs of support of that minor while the minor is temporarily placed or detained in any institution or other place pursuant to Section 625 or is committed to any institution or other place pursuant to an order of the juvenile court, if the minor is placed or detained because he or she is found by a court to have committed a crime against that person.  Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to extinguish a child support obligation between private parties."

10 California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 903.2 provides:  "(a) The juvenile court may require that the father, mother, spouse, or other person liable for the support of a minor, the estate of that person, and the estate of the minor shall be liable for the cost to the county of the probation supervision, home supervision, or electronic surveillance of the minor, pursuant to the order of the juvenile court, by the probation officer.  The liability of these persons (in this article called relatives) and estates shall be a joint and several liability.  (b) Liability shall be imposed on a person pursuant to this section only if he or she has the financial ability to pay.  In evaluating a family's financial ability to pay under this section, the county shall take into consideration the family income, the necessary obligations of the family, and the number of persons dependent upon this income."

11 California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 903.1 provides:  "(a) The father, mother, spouse, or other person liable for the support of a minor, the estate of that person, and the estate of the minor, shall be liable for the cost to the county or the court, whichever entity incurred the expenses, of legal services rendered to the minor by an attorney pursuant to an order of the juvenile court.  The father, mother, spouse, or other person liable for the support of a minor and the estate of that person shall also be liable for any cost to the county or the court of legal services rendered directly to the father, mother, or spouse, of the minor or any other person liable for the support of the minor, in a dependency proceeding by an attorney appointed pursuant to an order of the juvenile court.  The liability of those persons (in this article called relatives) and estates shall be a joint and several liability.  (b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), the father, mother, spouse, or other person liable for the support of the minor, the estate of that person, or the estate of the minor, shall not be liable for the costs of any of the legal services provided to any person described in this section if a petition to declare the minor a dependent child of the court pursuant to Section 300 is dismissed at or before the jurisdictional hearing.  (c) Fees received pursuant to this section shall be transmitted to the Administrative Office of the Courts in the same manner as prescribed in Section 68085.1 of the Government Code.  The Administrative Office of the Courts shall deposit the fees received pursuant to this section into the Trial Court Trust Fund."

12 California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 730.7 provides:  "(a) In a case in which a minor is ordered to make restitution to the victim or victims, or the minor is ordered to pay fines and penalty assessments under any provision of this code, a parent or guardian who has joint or sole legal and physical custody and control of the minor shall be rebuttably presumed to be jointly and severally liable with the minor in accordance with Sections 1714.1 and 1714.3 of the Civil Code for the amount of restitution, fines, and penalty assessments so ordered, up to the limits provided in those sections, subject to the court's consideration of the parent's or guardian's inability to pay.  When considering the parent's or guardian's inability to pay, the court may consider future earning capacity, present income, the number of persons dependent on that income, and the necessary obligations of the family, including, but not limited to, rent or mortgage payments, food, children's school tuition, children's clothing, medical bills, and health insurance.  The parent or guardian shall have the burden of showing an inability to pay.  The parent or guardian shall also have the burden of showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the parent or guardian was either not given notice of potential liability for payment of restitution, fines, and penalty assessments prior to the petition being sustained by an admission or adjudication, or that he or she was not present during the proceedings wherein the petition was sustained either by admission or adjudication and any hearing thereafter related to restitution, fines, or penalty assessments."

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