The minor with an assistance of counsel may request a rehearing within 3 court days of the detention. If the witness is unavailable, the court may grant a reasonable continuance not to exceed 5 court days. These types of hearings are:
(1) William M. Hearing (In re William M.(1970) 3 Cal.3d 16). The court initially detains a minor primarily on the review of a probation report drafted by a deputy probation officer (“DPO”). A William M Hearing allows the minor with the assistance of his/her attorney to confront and cross-examine the DPO. Since, this is a motion filed by the defense, they have the burden to subpoena the DPO.
(2) Dennis H. Hearing (In re Dennis H.(1971) 19 Cal.App.3d 350). This is again a motion filed by the defense but this time, the witnesses are the police officers who drafted the reports. The court must find whether there is a reasonable probability that a crime occurred and that the minor committed the crime. If there is a victim(s) of a crime, that individual(s) is not required to testify. The officer’s hearsay testimony is sufficient.

If either the DPO or the police officers are not available even after a continuance, the reports used as the basis for detention will not be considered. New evidence shall be required. If none, the minor shall be released from detention.


A. Lineups: The defense may file a motion for a lineup if there is an issue of identification. Commonly referred to as the “Evans” lineup (Evans v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 617) The court must find good cause to order this lineup which is conducted in juvenile hall. The factors considered by the courts are (1) timely filed (2) identification is an issue (3) reasonable likelihood of mistaken identification may exists which a lineup would tend to resolve. A defense attorney should be present and has the task of “silently observing.”

B. Discovery: California Rule of Court 1420 provides for “pre-hearing discovery” in juvenile court. The courts construe this rule liberally and both defense and prosecution have a duty to provide discovery – i.e. evidence, documentary or otherwise to each side. In practice, the prosecution provides the defense at arraignment the police, arrest and crime reports without a formal motion. The government also has to disclose statements of witnesses and felony convictions sustained by any material witness. Lastly, any evidence that may be favorable to the defense must be disclosed under Brady. (Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83).

C. Search and Seizure Motions/Search Warrant Motions: Like in adult court, juveniles are afforded the same rights to challenge the validity of a search of their person, property or home.

D. “Pitchess” Motions: This is motion that allows the defense to review law enforcement records about the police officers involved. The court must find that the complaints in an officer’s record to be relevant and beneficial to the defense. Disclosure of personnel records of officers is difficult to obtain but if this motion if filed and defense is successful, it may be crucial to developing a proper defense for the minor.


Criminal cases are open to the public unless the court specifies otherwise. But in juvenile proceedings, they are closed hearings—only a parent/guardian or relative of the minor is permitted. An exception could apply if there are more than one minor involved in a case and instead of severing the case, it is usually heard together. The court may also make an exception for an individual it deems to have a “direct or legitimate interest in the case.”

Confidentiality of court records is crucial in the juvenile arena. Inspection of juvenile court files are limited to court personnel, prosecution, the minor’s attorney of record, probation officers. It is not for public scrutiny. Additionally, the contents of the juvenile court files may not be copied or disseminated without a signed court order from the presiding judge of the juvenile court.

A defense attorney can assist a minor in sealing juvenile records and/or destruction of such records. After the termination of wardship or after 18, a minor’s records may be sealed. Destruction of records may also be initiated when a minor reaches 21 and for some offenses, at the age of 38.

Our children may make a “mistake” during their youth. But it is crucial that such acts do not “mark” them for life. As exemplified above, there are many alternatives to insuring that a minor is adequately defended. Additionally, if the minor’s petition is sustained, there are legal procedures to eradicate their juvenile records since it could seriously impede their educational and employment opportunities in the future.

CategoryCriminal Law