Juvenile Charges

Jose H. Varela, Public Defender

I Have Been Given a Citation! What Happens Next?

Most Charges

The police officer will prepare a report and send it to the Juvenile Probation Office.

If you are already on probation the report will be given to your Probation Officer who will send it on to the District Attorney. The District Attorney will decide if the report shows that you have violated the law.

  • If the DA decides that the report does not show that a crime was committed nothing further will happen.
  • If the DA decides that the report does show that a crime was committed s/he will file charges, called a Petition, and will have the Court Clerk send you and your parents copies of the Petition and a Notice to Appear in the Juvenile Court, 14 Jeannette Prandi Way, San Rafael. The Notice will set a Court date in approximately three weeks. You and at least one of your parents or guardians must appear.

If you are not on probation the report will be assigned to a probation officer who will contact you and your parent/s and ask you to come to the office to meet with the probation officer.

  • The Probation Officer you meet with has the ability to put the case over six months and close (dismiss) the case if you do certain agreed upon things. These things can include community service, counseling, and/or urinalysis testing. This program is called Informal Probation. In this program you never go to court and there is never any finding that you violated the law. The case is simply dismissed if you complete all the requirements.
  • If you do not want to participate in Informal Probation or if the Probation Officer believes you would not be able to successfully complete Informal Probation, the Probation Officer will forward the report to the District Attorney who will decide if the report shows that you have violated the law and proceed as described above.

When you arrive for your first court date you will meet with a lawyer who has been assigned by the Judge to represent you. There will be no witnesses in court this day and no final decisions will be made about your case this day. You will see the Judge after talking to your lawyer. The Judge will want to know that you understand the charges and to answer any questions you have about your rights in the Juvenile Delinquency system. The Judge will ask how you and your attorney want to proceed or if you need longer to decide how to proceed.

More Serious Charges

The police officer will prepare a report and send it to the Juvenile Probation Office.

The Probation Officer will send the report to the District Attorney who will decide if the report shows you have violated the law.

  • If the DA decides that the report does not show that a crime was committed, nothing further happens.
  • If the DA decides that the report does show that a crime was committed s/he will file charges, called a Petition, and will have the Court Clerk send you and your parents copies of the Petition and a Notice to Appear in the Juvenile Court, 14 Jeannette Prandi Way, San Rafael. The Notice will set the Court date in approximately three weeks. You and at least one of your parents or guardians must appear.

In certain felony charges, the Court will send you written information about the Deferred Entry of Judgment program. There may be many benefits to you if you decide to participate in this program so it is important to read the information about the program before coming to court and sp3aking to your lawyer.

Some Other Charges – Juvenile Traffic Court

Some citations will be referred to Juvenile Traffic Court. Charges that are infractions, mostly those which cannot result in you going to Juvenile Hall as a punishment, are heard in the Juvenile Traffic Court at the Civic Center Hall of Justice, San Rafael. You will not be automatically appointed a Public Defender in this type of case because you cannot be incarcerated or punished by the Court more severely than a fine.

Important Information about Juvenile Traffic Court: Occasionally more serious cases with more serious punishments such as incarceration or mandatory loss of license are put on the Juvenile Traffic Court calendar. These charges are called misdemeanors. In these cases you are entitled to have the Public Defender represent you. If you would like to talk to a Public Defender before proceeding on your case, tell the Juvenile Traffic Referee (the judge) and s/he will tell you how to arrange for that to happen. If you are not sure whether you are entitled to a Public Defender by being subject to greater penalties or by being charged with a misdemeanor you should ask the Juvenile Traffic Referee.

I Have Been Taken To Juvenile Hall – What Happens Next?

Your parents have a right to visit you within 24 hours of your coming into detention in Juvenile Hall. They should call (415) 473-3293 to arrange the visit.

Children do not have a right to bail, so if the police officer takes you to Juvenile Hall neither you nor your parents can deposit money in exchange for your release. You will have to wait to be seen by a Probation Officer, who can release you from the Hall, or to be seen by a Judge who also can release you from the Hall.

If you do not already have a probation officer, one will be assigned to you on the first business day following your booking into the Hall. Your Probation Officer will contact you in the Hall and will call your parents for the purpose of deciding whether to recommend you be released. Your parents can call (415) 473-6659 during business hours to get the name of your assigned Probation Officer and to speak to him or her.

If you have been taken to Juvenile Hall, the decisions about filing a charge are made as described above, only more quickly. You will go to court on the next court day after you are detained in Juvenile Hall. Juvenile cases are heard on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons at 1:30 pm in the courtroom at 14 Jeannette Prandi Road, San Rafael.