Memphis Juvenile Defense Lawyer on: Detention Hearings in Juvenile Court

In Tennessee, the detention hearing is a juvenile’s first appearance before a judge after being arrested and charged with a felony offense.  It’s where the judge determines if the child should be released or kept in custody until trial.

How a juvenile gets charged in Memphis is going to depend on the circumstances.  Sometimes, in the case of crimes like armed robbery, it happens after an anonymous tip is given to the police.  Other times, like with sex offenses, the victim (or more likely his or her parent) will notify the police and an investigation will begin.  If you get a call from the police requesting that you bring your child in for questioning related to a crime, the investigation is already well underway and charges are almost certainly going to be filed. 

At this point there’s no way to avoid an arrest.  You should contact a Memphis juvenile criminal defense lawyer to discuss the case and the best way to arrange turning your child in.  The police may ask if he or she wants to give a statement, but that’s probably pointlesss since an arrest is inevitable.  Giving a statement is not going to make the charge go away.  As a parent, the best thing you can do is prepare yourself and your family emotionally for what’s about to happen, and then seek legal counsel.

Whether you turn your child in, or he or she is picked up on a warrant, your child will be taken to Shelby County Juvenile Court to be processed and detained.  They are now in jail and cannot be released until appearing before a judge.  Here is a significant difference between the adult and juvenile criminal justice systems.  If an adult is arrested in Tennessee, he or she will be taken before a magistrate and given a bond within a few hours.  Adults have a constitutional right to bail in all cases except capital crimes where the proof is evident or the presumption is great.  Children do not have such a right in Tennessee.  Whether to set bail or not is completely at the discretion of the judge.  In other words, some children at Shelby County Juvenile Court will stay in jail until their trial.  The decision of whether to release or not will be made at the detention hearing.

In some cases, like property crimes, the juvenile will be released immediately after the hearing.  However, the appearance won’t be scheduled until the next business day after the arrest, so if a juvenile is arrested on a Friday or Saturday they must spend the entire weekend in jail before appearing in court on Monday. 

For more serious crimes such as weapons charges or crimes against another person, it gets trickier.  Generally a charge where a gun is possessed or employed means that the child stays in jail, period.  Tennessee courts are extremely strict on these types of crimes.  Sex offenses may have more leeway.  If the child has not previously been before the court, and the judge can be convinced that an appropriate safety plan is put in place, the child may be released to the parents’ custody (but there is no guarantee of this).  A safety plan is basically the conditions of release.  This may include things like a curfew, no unsupervised activities, no contact with the victim, and psychological counseling.   A Memphis juvenile criminal defense lawyer can work with the parents, the court probation officer, and the prosecutor to draft a safety plan that can increase the juvenile’s chances of being released.

No parent wants to see their child arrested and charged with a felony offense, but it’s even worse knowing that your son or daughter will have to stay in custody through trial.   However, this is going to be the reality for parents of children facing serious, violent offenses.  Whatever the situation your child is in, a juvenile criminal lawyer for Memphis can help you through the detention hearing and subesquent proceedings.

Patrick Stegall is a Memphis juvenile criminal defense lawyer.  Parents in Memphis, Germantown, and Collierville, TN should seek legal counsel for help with their juvenile criminal matters.  Mr. Stegall represents children accused of many types of crimes througout Shelby County, and can advise parents of the best options and possible outcomes.  Please call him at (901) 205-9894 or email him at pstegall@stegall-law.com.

About PatrickStegall

I am a criminal defense lawyer in Memphis, Tennessee. My practice ranges from traffic tickets to major felonies, from violent crimes to white collar crimes, DUI, juvenile defense, drug possession, and more. I also draft NFA gun trusts for individuals and families throughout Tennessee. Please visit my website at www.stegall-law.com.
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