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My child was arrested. What happens next?

About Juvenile Crimes and Family Court

The juvenile justice system is similar in many ways to the adult criminal justice system. Juveniles have the same constitutional rights that adults have, and much of the proceedings are similar. Crimes committed by a juvenile (a person under the age of 17) are referred to as "delinquencies." Juvenile delinquency matters are handled by the Family Division of Circuit Court. In juvenile matters, parents are typically notified by mail about when the juvenile and a parent must appear in Family Court for an initial hearing.

In addition to being arrested during the commission of a crime, juveniles can be taken into custody and detained with a "pick up order" (the equivalent of an arrest warrant issued for an adult).

Will my child be held in custody or sent to jail?

Depending upon the reason a juvenile has been arrested and whether or not he or she will be charged, juveniles can be held in custody pending arraignment, or sent home with a parent to await instructions in the mail.

Juveniles under the age of 17 can also be held in custody in the county jail while they are waiting for trial if:

  • The case has been determined to be a criminal case;

  • The charges are for a felony crime; and

  • There is reasonable cause to believe the juvenile committed the felony.

Approval from the county sheriff is required before a juvenile can be held in county jail pending trial, and the juvenile must be kept separate from adults who are being detained. We understand the fears and anxiety parents feel when their child is in custody and appreciate that you want your child home again as soon as possible. Contact our law offices today for a free initial consultation to learn how we can help you, and your child.

Will my child be tried as an adult?

In Michigan, a juvenile is a child under the age of 17; however, Michigan’s Juvenile Waiver Law of 1997 lowered the age that a juvenile can automatically be tried as an adult for violent crimes. Children as young as eleven have been tried as adults (for murder) under this law. Whether or not your child will be tried as an adult depends on the nature of the crime, any past criminal history, psychological history, and other factors that are unique to each case.

The Family Court has jurisdiction over all juvenile cases; so if your child is under the age of 17, and the crime was not a violent or serious felony, they will probably be tried as a juvenile in Family Court. If your child is being charged as an adult, he or she will face more serious penalties than if being charged as a juvenile. For immediate help, and aggressive legal representation, contact our juvenile crimes defense attorneys.

What Happens in Court – The Arraignment

When you and your child appear in court for the first time, be sure to have an attorney present no matter how "minor" you think the offense is. The following are some of the things that take place in court, all of which your child should have a defense lawyer present for:

  • Charges are explained. The defendant appears in court and is told what crime(s) they are being charged with and the possible penalties they face if convicted.

  • Rights are read. The defendant is either told what their constitutional rights are or reads them, and must sign a document stating they were given their rights and understand what their rights are.

  • A plea is entered. The defendant will be asked how they are pleading to the charges. A defendant can plead not guilty, Nolo Contendere (No Contest), guilty, or refuse to speak (which is entered as a plea of not guilty). There are also other types of pleas, including Cobbs Plea and Killebrew Plea, which are essentially guilty pleas with conditions.

  • Bond is set. A person being charged with a crime will be held in custody until bond is set by a judge. Cash or property used to pay the court bond money (bail) may not necessarily be returned in full even if the person complies with all the terms of the bond.

  • Next court date set. The defendant is given the next court date, or the court advises the defendant that a notice of the next court date will be sent to him or her at a particular address.

What is a bond? What are the different types of bonds and bail terms?

A bond is the condition under which a person is released with the promise to return to court. Bonds often include bail (money the defendant has to pay to the court). If the defendant does not honor the terms of the bond or return to court, the court keeps the bail money and an arrest warrant will be issued. Bonds can include conditions the defendant must agree to abide by such as not drinking or taking drugs, no driving, no contact with a victim, etc.

There are four types of bonds:

  • Cash Bonds. A defendant may be required to pay the full amount of their bond in cash before they can be released. If the defendant appears on all future court dates, most, but not all of the monies are returned to the person posting the bond.

  • Percent Bonds. This type of bond requires the defendant to post a percentage of the full bond to get out of jail. The percentage is typically as low as 10%, and the remaining percent is due only if the defendant fails to appear for their next court date.

  • Personal Recognizance Bonds ("PR" bonds, or "signature bonds"). PR bonds require the defendant or a third party to pay money to the court only if the defendant fails to appear on their next court date.

  • Surety Bonds. A surety bond is a promise made by an approved bondsman that the defendant will appear in court as required. If the defendant fails to appear in court, the bondsman will be required to pay the full bail amount. For their services, a professional bondsman charges the defendant a non-refundable percentage of the full bail amount.

How can you help my child avoid jail?

Our law firm is one of the few in Michigan that devotes its entire practice to defending people accused of crimes. With more than 100 years of combined legal experience, our team has the qualifications and determination necessary to get your child the best possible outcome. If we cannot get charges dismissed, we will negotiate a plea bargain in the best interest of your child. If we need to go to trial, we will thoroughly investigate all the facts and evidence involved in the case to present the strongest defense possible.

We take all major credit cards, are accessible 24/7 and visit jails. Don’t waste time worrying about who will represent your child. Contact our experienced and aggressive juvenile crimes defense attorneys today and to get your child the best defense possible.

Where can I get help rehabilitating my child?

Over the past decade, the state of Michigan has worked hard to reduce the rate of recidivism (rate of repeat offenders) and there are many programs available through the state to help your child. Two places to start looking for help are:

  • Bureau of Juvenile Justice: Works to prevent and treat juvenile delinquency through a variety of programs and services.

  • Juvenile Justice Assignment Unit: Responsible for locating residential placement for all delinquent youth, supervised by the Department of Human Services Bureau of Juvenile Justice.

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