The first hearing is where the minor is arraigned.  The arraignment hearing is where counsel is appointed for the minor and the minor is advised of their Constitutional rights and the charges against them. In most cases the minor will enter a plea by either admitting the allegation, denying the allegation, or not contesting the allegation.  If the minor denies the allegations, the case is set for a settlement conference, jurisdiction hearing or both.  If the minor is detained, a detention hearing is held.


At the first court hearing, the court will address the minor’s custodial status and will either release the minor or leave the minor in custody.  A detention hearing is required anytime a minor is taken into custody and not released.     

Detention Hearing Time Requirements 

If the minor is arrested for a misdemeanor not involving violence or possession or use of weapons, and if the minor is not on probation, a detention hearing must be held within 48 hours after being taken into custody.  In all other cases, a petition must be filed within 48 hours after the arrest.  The remedy for not filing a petition or holding the detention hearing by the time prescribed by law, is the release of the minor from custody.        

Criteria for Detention

The court must detain a minor only if it finds that showing has been made that the minor is a person described by Welf & Inst Code § 602 and that one or more of the following exist:

  1. Minor violated a juvenile order
  2. Minor escaped a juvenile court commitment
  3. Minor is likely to flee
  4. Necessary to protect the minor
  5. Necessary to protect the person or property of another from the minor

The court may place a minor on home supervision even when it determines that the minor should be detained.  If the minor is released, the court may impose conditions on the conduct and activities of the minor.    

Negotiation of Charges

Negotiation of charges in juvenile court may be done between the defense, prosecution, and judge.  A juvenile court may accept a negotiated settlement that specifies a specific disposition. 

Admission of Allegations Prior to Trial 

In some cases, the minor will admit the allegations in the petition because a settlement agreement has been worked out among the parties.  If a minor is in the custody of their parent or guardian after an admission, the minor may not be ordered into detention without notice, hearing, and opportunity for the minor to contest detention.    

After Detention Hearing

If the minor admits the allegations, the minor could be sentenced.  If the minor denies the allegations, the case is set for a settlement conference, jurisdiction hearing or both.