The first step in the juvenile criminal process for a child that has been arrested and detained is the juvenile detention hearing.  In Albuquerque, juvenile detention hearings are heard by Hearing Officers in the District Court Juvenile Division.   Both the juvenile detention center and the District Court Juvenile Division are located at 5100 Second Street NW in Albuquerque.

The Hearing Officer will determine at the juvenile detention hearing whether or not the child should be released back into the community.  In addition, the Hearing Officer will determine what conditions should be established should the child be released.  The conditions at a minimum prohibit future violations of the law, the use of drugs or alcohol, truancy and any contact with alleged victims or witnesses.   Depending on the circumstances, other conditions commonly include regular contact with probation, random or daily drug alcohol screening, counseling and anger management.

It is very important that the parents or guardian attend the detention hearing particularly in cases involving serious offenses.  The Hearing Officer will want to hear from the parents or guardian about how the court can be guaranteed of the child’s compliance with the conditions of release should the child be released.  It is important for the parents or guardians to be ready to address questions from the Hearing Officer regarding the conditions in the home, support of the child by family and friends, planned counseling, the child’s friends and other associations that might affect success, and other areas of support for the child.   One thing that the court will almost always address is the child’s curfews.  The parents and the child should understand that late curfews are considered unacceptable by the court.   In fact, the court will take the suggestion of a late curfew as an indication that the child is not taking the case seriously and that the parents have no control over the child.

Perhaps most important, the Hearing Officer will want to hear about the child’s school performance.   Right or wrong, good students are given the benefit of the doubt where bad students are not.  Truancy will get the child’s conditions of release violated as fast as any other transgression.   A good student is not necessarily an A student in the court’s eye.  Instead, the court will look to effort, attendance, and most of all improvements.  It is safe to say that the best way for a child to stay out of detention in these situations is to stay in school.

Assuming that the parents or guardian want the child back in the home, which sadly is not always the case, it is very important that the parents and the child be prepared for the detention hearing.   Due to the many unique issues in a juvenile detention hearing, the assistance of an attorney is generally advised.