If you have learned that your child is in the custody of the police, you need to start supporting him immediately. You need to be his advocate. Begin by asking the processing officer at the police station to explain the arrest and booking process. Then ask the following questions:
- Why was my child arrested?
- Will my child have to stay in custody (juvenile facility, etc.)? Can he be released into my custody?
- Will we need to post bond?
- What happens next?
- Where can I get help if my child is referred to juvenile court?
You will need to find an attorney if your child is referred to the court system. If your family does not have the money, ask about the public defender program. The Public Defender’s Office gives legal counsel for people on limited incomes. You will have to fill out paperwork that explains your family’s income. They decide who can receive a public defender’s services based on family income.
Even if your child has an attorney, it is important for you to attend all legal proceedings with your child. This includes court appearances, meetings with probation officers and juvenile court staff. It also includes evaluations by treatment program staff. Most juvenile courts want to divert young people away from the legal system and into treatment. It is still important for you to be there every step of the way. In fact, under Colorado law, you may be held in contempt if you fail to appear in court with your child. Talk to your attorney about this. Also, the courts view a parent’s involvement positively when they make sentencing and other decisions about your child.
After being taken into custody, your child may qualify to be released into your custody. Before he is released, he may be evaluated. This is done by a pre-adjudication service program. This evaluation will make suggestions to the court. This evaluation is designed to help the court make a better decision about your child’s detention placement or bond. They will propose a plan to the court. This plan will include conditions you or your child must follow.
The Colorado Department of Human Services has created a flow chart that describes all of the legal steps from the time a child is arrested to disposition. You can also review the laws by going to the Children’s Code in the Colorado Revised Statutes, section 19-2-501.