My child was arrested, what happens now?

The police report will be forwarded to the Probation Department., which will determine what the next steps will be. Some possibilities are to have the case handled informally (diversion) or the police report will be sent to the District Attorney’s Office (DAOs) for the filing of charges in court.  If the DAOs files a petition, a court date will be set for your child.

If your child is arrested and detained in the Youth Services Center (YSC), the Deputy Probation Officer (DPO) will assess whether or not your child needs to remain detained in the YSC pending their court hearing, or if they are eligible for release.  If your child remains detained, they will appear in court for a detention hearing.  The DPO will interview you and your child and will ultimately prepare a report to the court with formal recommendations, which will include probation conditions, treatment and a sanction. 

Should I retain an attorney?

The Probation Department cannot give any legal advice. There is a Private Defender’s Office (PDOs), that you can contact for assistance; (650) 312-5396.  You will be afforded an attorney or you may decide to retain your own attorney, separate from the PDO panel. 

How do I get a copy of the police report?

The Probation Department does not have the authority to release police reports. To obtain a copy, go to the police department that responded to the crime. They will determine if the report can be released to you. You may also submit a request to the court that the police department release the report.

When will my child be released from Juvenile Hall?

Youth are released or detained at YSC based on several factors. The court considers the seriousness of the crime, criminal history, victim status, home dynamics, and other variables regarding whether or not the youth poses a threat to the community or are at risk of not showing up to their next court date. The Probation Department only makes recommendations to the court. It is the Judge’s ultimate decision to determine how long the youth will stay in custody and under what conditions they will be released.

What do I need to bring to my child’s first Court appearance?

Just you and your child. Both parent(s)/guardian(s) are not necessary but are encouraged to attend. Have your child dress appropriately for court. Arrive early so you have some time to speak with someone from the PDOs. Put together a list of questions ahead of time and make sure you get all of your questions answered. Do not bring food, drinks, or cell phones. They will not be allowed in the court area.

What can I expect to happen in Court?

There may be a lot of wait time depending upon how many cases are scheduled for that day. Plan enough time off from work.

The first court date is called an arraignment. At this court appearance, you will be notified of the charges your child is facing. After court, you will be asked to make contact with a DPO, who will begin to gather information for their report to the Court.

The second court date is called a pre-trial conference. This is when the DAOs, and your attorney from the PDOs (or retained attorney), will attempt to come to an agreement regarding the case, in lieu of a trial hearing.  If you, your child and your attorney are satisfied with the agreement, your child will be asked if they admit to the charge(s) and then the petition will be “sustained,” which means the charge has been determined by the court to be true.  In adult court, someone is convicted, but with a juvenile, the charges are sustained.  If you, your child or your attorney are not satisfied with the agreement or assert that your child is not guilty of the charges, then the case can be continued for a jurisdictional hearing (trial).

At a jurisdictional hearing, evidence is presented and witnesses are questioned. Based on the evidence presented, the Judge (juvenile courts do not have juries) will make a determination of innocence or guilt. The court will continue the matter for a dispositional hearing, and the matter will be calendared for another court date.  The DPO will prepare a report and make recommendations for that hearing, which the Judge will consider. 

Note- If your child is in custody, often the court process will proceed faster due to in-custody timelines. 

My child is out of control. Can I bring them to Juvenile Hall?

No. The YSC does not accept children who have not been charged with a crime. Only those children who have committed a crime and are seen as a danger to the community are detained.  However, you may reach out to the Probation Department and speak with an On-Duty DPO to ask about services in the community that may benefit your child. One such program is the Youth Outreach Program (YOP), and the DPO can make a referral for you to assist your child in getting the help that they need.  Services typically include: individual therapy, case management services, family therapy and parent support.

When can my child be tried as an adult?

Your child must be at least 14 years old and have committed a very serious offense as defined in the California Penal Code to be charged as an adult. Based on a petition filed by the DAO, the court will ultimately decide which cases are moved out of juvenile court.

My child was declared a Ward of the Court as the result of a sustained criminal charge and placed on probation. What can I now expect?

Your child’s DPO should be in touch with you to answer any questions you have and to have your child sign their court orders.  The amount of intervention and services will be based on the status and conditions of probation ordered by the Judge.

While on probation, you can expect your child to be contacted at home and in school.  If search and seizure is imposed, the DPO may search your child’s room and all common areas of your residence (all areas the child has access to). DPOs may do this on their own, with another DPO, and/or with local law enforcement , based on the the circumstances of the case. The frequency and type of contact will be based on the level of supervision that meets the needs of the child, in an effort to prevent continued criminal or delinquent behavior.

If chemical testing orders are imposed, your child may be tested for the use of drugs and alcohol. You and/or your child may be required to attend programs and treatment. There could be additional court dates to check on the status of your child’s performance on probation.


How long will my child be on probation?

Unlike the adult system, there is no set amount of time that a child can be on formal probation. The child will remain on probation until they meet all of the conditions of their probation.  The Judge is the only one who can release a child from the terms of their probation.  Also, the juvenile court can maintain jurisdiction until the client reaches the age of 21 and in some cases the age of 25.

Informal Probation and Diversion are generally a maximum of six months.  Deferred Entry of Judgement is for one year. 

What is Maximum Confinement Time?

Maximum confinement time is the maximum time a child can be detained in a secure facility; the time is based on the sustained charge(s) on the child’s record as dictated by law.

What happens when my child turns 18?

Juvenile probation cases are prosecuted based on the age of the child at the time the crime was committed. The juvenile justice system can maintain jurisdiction over a case until the youth turns 21. In certain cases and based on the severity of the offense (offenses listed in 707(b) of the Welfare and Institutions Code), probation supervision and treatment services may extend beyond the age of 21. 

The length and time on probation and conditions are determined by the unique circumstances of each case.  If the youth commits a new offense after they turn 18, the new case is handled in the adult system.

Can I join the military if I am on probation?

Each military branch has requirements, which may include that your probation has been terminated prior to enlisting. Some offenses may render you ineligible for military service. You should contact the recruiter for the branch of service that interests you for specific information.

Do I have to report my probation status to my employer?

No, not unless the Court orders you to report it.

Do I have to report that I have been convicted of a crime on a job application?

No, not for a juvenile matter. There are no “convictions” in a juvenile court.  The charges that are found true are sustained and juvenile records are confidential.  Juvenile records can also be sealed if the PDOs, DAOs, and DPO all agree and the court orders the record to be sealed.  This may not apply to all offenses, including 707B offenses. 

Can anyone call the Probation Department to check my records?

No, all juvenile records are confidential and require a signed release of information or court order in order for the Probation Department to share information with anyone other than the parent or guardian of the child.

Can my child be out after curfew?

No, the mandated curfew requires the child to be at their legal residence between the hours of 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM, unless the court authorizes a different set of hours for curfew.  This means that they are not allowed to spend the night anywhere other than their legal residence unless they are with one of their parent(s)/guardian(s). Parents should check with their child’s DPO when planning a vacation, being out past curfew hours for family outings, or the changing of residence because an order from the court may be required.

How does my child learn more about having their record sealed?

Contact the Juvenile Probation Department at 650-312-8816 and ask for the On-Duty DPO.  Most records are eligible for sealing with the exception of cases with a sustained 707B offense.

If you have questions about a court case, contact 650-312-8816, and ask for the assigned Deputy Probation Officer.