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What happens if your child is arrested

Get a step-by-step overview of the process and what you need to do.

After the arrest

After the police arrest a young person (age 12 to 17), 1 of these 2 things will happen.

The youth gets a citation and is allowed to go home

Most of the time, a child who is arrested will get a citation. It’s like a ticket. It will say why they were arrested. The citation will also say what will happen next. Usually, it will state the time and place they need to go for a meeting or court date.

The youth is “detained” at Juvenile Hall

In some cases, a youth may be booked and taken to Juvenile Hall. This is called “detention.” A counselor from Juvenile Hall will call you (the parents or guardians) to let you know what happened. Most children who go to Juvenile Hall only stay there for a short time. Youths are more likely to go to Juvenile Hall if:

  • The alleged crime was serious
  • There’s not another safe place for them to go
  • They aren’t taking responsibility for what they did
  • They’re at risk of hurting themselves or someone else
  • The Probation Department can’t contact the parents or caregivers

If your child is sent to Juvenile Hall learn what to expect .

What parents and guardians can do

  • Read the citation carefully. Make sure you understand it - and follow the instructions
    about when and where your child needs to go next.
  • Don’t miss any appointments. If your child misses a court date or other appointment, they
    could get in more trouble.
  • If your child is detained, ask questions. Find out where they are and how you can see them.
    Ask if you can see the police report.
  • Get the name and number of someone who can help. This will be a counselor from
    Juvenile Probation. It could be your child’s probation officer. Their job is to help support
    your child - and you - through this process.

What's next?

Whether your child goes home or to Juvenile Hall, there are 2 basic options for what happens next.


Page updated March 25, 2024