What Happens at a Juvenile Arraignment?

The arraignment is the hearing during which the juvenile is formally charged. The court asks the juvenile is they plead guilty or not guilty to the charges against them. It is very different from the way adults are tried in court cases. Minors do not have the same constitutional rights as adults. It’s important to know that some rights that juveniles have were decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, and therefore apply to all states, but each state may also have adopted their own laws that affect juvenile court cases.

For example, in order for police to search an adult, they must have “probable cause,” whereas a teenager can be detained and searched if a teacher has reasonable suspicion that the teenager had committed a crime or was planning on carrying one out.

The process is slightly different for minors than it is for adults. Read on to learn what to expect, and what happened prior to going to court.


When law enforcement is called out to the minor it is usually to issue a warning, arrest them, or arrested and detained. Sometimes, the minor is let go, but oftentimes, they’re brought in. They are then held until a parent or guardian can come for them. If the decision is made to have custody of the minor until the police, know how they want to proceed, then the minor will continue to remain in custody. If the minor is a runaway risk, they may be detained to avoid the risk of them running away.

What Decides Going To Court?

In the meantime, the prosecutor looks over the case and decides whether or not they want to proceed. They assess the file and decide whether or not there is enough evidence to detain the minor. They also evaluate whether or not there is sufficient evidence and information to have a case at all. Sometimes they will dismiss a case for such reasons. If not, then the minor will have to appear in court.

The factors they can consider when deciding to pursue your case include:

  • How serious the crime committed was
  • The age of the minor
  • The minor’s past criminal record, including behavior records from school, if applicable
  • The juvenile’s social class and race
  • The juvenile’s gender
  • The juvenile’s home life

At The Juvenile Arraignment Hearing

There are many ways the hearing can go depending on the factors above. If there is suspicion of neglect or abuse in the minor’s household, then the judge may order that minor to be removed from their parent or guardian, and it is assumed they will lead a happier life that doesn’t lead to criminal behavior. Other times judges have been known to give harsh, uplifting, and fear-inducing lectures without a sentence to minors. They believe that the offense was not giving them a sentence that will harm their chances of going to college or getting a job later, and sincerely want the minor to make better choices.

With more serious crimes the judge may order that the minor perform a variety of activities. These may include going to after-school programs or classes, completing several hours of community service, paying a fine, or going to therapy. In more severe cases, however, they can put the minor on probation or send them to jail. That’s why you need to contact an attorney, such as the Law Offices of Elliot Kanter, to get the counsel you need.

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