Why Can't You Bail Your Child Out Of Jail? The Outcomes Of Juvenile Arrests

Posted on: 22 September 2014

You've just gotten the phone call that every parent hopes to never receive -- your child has been arrested, and is being held in police custody. Panicked, your immediate reaction is that you want to get your child home where you can find out what happened, monitor them, and lend the emotional support that you know they must need right now.

You waste no time. You grab your wallet, jump in your car, and head out to the nearest bail bondsman. What the bondsman has to say, though, makes your heart sink -- since your child is a juvenile, they aren't entitled to be released on bail. What does this mean?

What It Doesn't Mean: Your Child Will Have To Sit In Jail Until Their Court Sentence

The wording of the bail bondsman's statement is alarming, but the fact that your child can't be bailed out is actually a good thing. For adults, the judicial system is intended to punish individuals for the crimes they commit. For juveniles, the goal is to supervise those who have committed a crime, and rehabilitate them by any means necessary. 

So, when the bail bondsman says "your child isn't entitled to bail," what they really mean it "there's no need to post bail; that's not how the system works with people under the age of 18."

What It Does Mean: Your Child Must Remain In Custody Until Their Detention Hearing

Your child will not be sitting in custody for an undetermined amount of time. They will, however, be in custody until the District Attorney's office and the Probation Department can view the details of their arrest. Don't worry, though; although it varies by state, most court systems require that a juvenile's case be reviewed within 24 hours of their arrest.

During The Detention Hearing

The District Attorney's office and Probation Department will be looking at a few key factors when they review your child's case. The criteria that are examined will have a direct effect on what happens to your child after the detention hearing. Among the things they'll examine include:

  • The amount of probable cause that suggests that your child is, indeed, guilty of the offense
  • The degree of seriousness of the crime
  • Your child's prior arrest record
  • Your ability to properly supervise your child

After The Detention Hearing

After all of these factors are weighed, the system will then make a decision as to what to do with your child. At this point, one of the following occurrences will take place:

  • Placement In A Juvenile Detention Center - If it is determined that your child poses a serious risk to himself, or to others, your child will be placed in a juvenile detention facility until their court hearing.
  • At-Home Detention - If, during the detention hearing, it is determined that your child's offense was not overly severe, and that you are capable of closely monitoring your child, your child will be released to your care until the time of their court hearing.
  • Electronic Monitoring - If you are capable of supervising your child, but the court system perceives them as a flight risk, your child will be placed on electronic monitoring until their court date.
  • Community Shelter - If it is decided at the detention hearing that you are not capable of supervising your child, yet the severity of the child's crime was not excessive, your child will be placed in a community shelter where they can be supervised by a guardian until the time of his or her court hearing.

Tried As An Adult

There is one more scenario that may result following your child's detention hearing, but it is reserved for only the most severe cases of juvenile crime. If your child is being held on account of a particularly serious offense such as murder or brutality, or if your child is a repeat offender, the judge may decide to waive his or her rights as a juvenile and instead try them as an adult.

At this time, the judge will set a bail amount, and you may contact a bail bondsman to assist you in getting your child home until their court hearing.

If you've received that dreaded phone call informing you that your child has been arrested, don't panic when you find out that you can't immediately bail them out of jail. In most cases, bail simply isn't necessary because the law already mandates that your child can't be held for an extended period of time. In the rare cases where it is determined that a child should be held in custody for longer than a day or two, it's because the court has decided that their crime warrants adult-level disciplinary action, and you'll be given the opportunity to post bail on their behalf at that time.

To learn more about your particular case, contact All Star Bail Bonds.