Detention Hearings: My child was arrested and placed in custody in jail, is this legal?

Barnes & Fersten Law Firm

Barnes & Fersten Law Firm

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Unfortunately, yes. The police may be taken to the juvenile detention facility after committing a criminal offense but the circumstances under which they are placed in jail after an arrest is limited.

Generally, the police will only place your child in the detention facility if they committed an offense that either:

  1. Resulted in a serious injury or death of the victim;
  2. Involved the likelihood of serious injury or death to a victim;
  3. Unlawfully possessed a handgun or carried a weapon;
  4. Violated probation by committing an offense while on probation for another crime; or
  5. Currently awaiting court action on another criminal charge

Your child cannot remain in the juvenile detention facility indefinitely without an appearance in court. If your child is currently in custody, please contact our office immediately because your child is entitled to a detention hearing within 48 to 84 hours and we must meet with your child in the detention facility, request your child’s court file, and prepare for the detention hearing to get them back home.

Our first step is to visit your child in the detention facility to learn everything we can about them, about the facts of their case that led to their arrest, learn about their criminal history, if any, academic history, aspirations in life, and ensure that they want us to be their attorneys. Ultimately, your child is our client, regardless of if you are paying for their attorney fees, so we must build an attorney-client relationship with your child so they can put their trust in us to take care of their best interests, avoid jail time, and tell us their secrets that they may not even be comfortable discussing with you, their parents.

What is a detention hearing?

A detention hearing is where the judge will decide if your child should remain in the jail until their case is resolved, or alternatively go home or to a rehabilitation center.

Before we ever have a detention hearing, we will meet with the prosecutor assigned to your child’s case and likely their probation officer to see if we can reach a negotiated resolution of either the charges they are facing or to get them out of custody.

Juvenile courts focus on rehabilitation or ensuring your child will learn their lesson and avoid trouble with the law in the future, rather than punishment. As such, we will look into whether there are any rehabilitative efforts that are more beneficial for your child’s future than remaining in jail, including but not limited to substance abuse programs, sexual education programs, therapy, or probation.

In short, proving to the court that your child can and will be rehabilitated will usually help to avoid them remaining in custody and also help us resolve the case overall and decrease the long-term effects of a conviction.

Will the Judge let my child out of jail after the detention hearing?

  1. Probable cause of one of the scenarios outlined above:
    1. The judge must find probable cause, or that it is more likely than not that your child committed the offense. This is a lower standard than beyond a reasonable doubt, as required to find your child guilty of the offense.
    2. This provides us with the opportunity to cross-examine the State’s witnesses before the actual juvenile court adjudicatory hearing or juvenile trial. This allows us to get the witness’s testimony under oath which will be beneficial for the juvenile trial, or negotiation purposes especially after we can compare their testimony to the discovery we receive in your child’s case.
  2. No less restrictive alternative
    1. The judge must find that there are no less restrictive alternatives to protect the public and your child than to keep them in custody.
    2. This is the most important factor for your juvenile defense attorney to focus on in your child’s defense of the overall case and to avoid the long-term consequences of your child’s actions. Our lawyers build relationships with the probation officers in your child’s case and work with them to recommend certain rehabilitative services or alternatives to jail. The judge many times will listen to the recommendations of the probation officer, so it is imperative that your child’s lawyer builds those connections for the betterment of your child’s case and life.
  • In some cases we may recommend placement with the child’s parents under certain probation conditions such as an ankle monitor, curfew, and random drug screens. In other cases, we may recommend placement in a substance abuse program or anger management program depending on the charges your child.

Let Barnes & Fersten Fight For You

At Barnes & Fersten our attorneys are committed to fighting for your child’s rights and to get them out of custody as soon as possible. Jail time is rarely the answer when it comes to helping your child get back on the right track even if they are guilty. Regardless of whether your child is innocent or guilty of the allegations against them, our juvenile defense lawyers fight for your child’s rights and best interest.

Jail is rarely the answer for a child. Instead of being kept in jail there are numerous resources available that could help a child and prevent them from committing a serious criminal offense in the future. Their future begins today with a plan of action by an experienced and juvenile defense lawyer who cares about your child’s future.

If your child was charged with a criminal offense and in need of a criminal defense lawyer, contact Barnes & Fersten today. Let our experienced juvenile defense attorneys guide you and your child through this difficult time, and work tirelessly to secure the best possible outcome for your case. 

Attorney At Law, Managing Partner

Brandon D. Fersten is an esteemed Knoxville attorney practicing DUIcriminal defense, and juvenile law. Known for his empathetic approach and commitment to his clients, he brings a record of favorable case outcomes including dismissals and not guilty verdicts at jury trials resulting in Brandon being recognized as one of the “Top 40 Under 40” in Criminal Defense, U.S. News’ Best Lawyers: “Ones to Watch,” and Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars”. Brandon’s professional accolades, combined with his passion for justice, position him as a reliable criminal defense advocate in the East Tennessee legal landscape.