11 Things You Must Be Made Aware of For First Hearing, at the Juvenile Dependency Court: The Arraignment Detention Hearing
1. You have the constitutional right to be represented by an attorney, especially in these cases where you could eventually lose all your rights to your children;
2. At this hearing, bring as many relatives and friends to the hearing. This will let the court and social workers know that you are not alone in this fight; and they may turn out to be valuable resources for you and your attorney. They may be possible placements, instead of foster care; or may be a court approved monitor if the court orders that you have monitored visits.
3. You will have to inform your attorney and the judge if you have any American Indian Ancestry. In these types of cases, the Tribe may be notified, and your case may be handled by a different set of laws reserved for American Indians.
4. You have the right to receive the documents filed with the court, and to review the documents, and to review the documents with your attorney before you see the judge for the Hearing.
5. The documents you should review are:
a. The Welfare & Institutions Code 300 petition, it will be at least 4/5 pages, and many times longer than that;
b. The Application for Petition & Detention Report, which are documents which usually are at least 20-40 pages long, sometimes including attachments and/or exhibits
c. Any other documents or exhibits filed by the social worker with the judge
6. For this hearing only, and for the most part the judge must accept what the social worker reported as true. This unfortunate law, has been upheld as constitutional. However, an experienced juvenile dependency attorney may be able to work around this 1st day rule in trying to get the child released to the parent or friendly relative. (After this 1st date, the social worker must prove the allegation is true.)
7. You have the right to a NO TIME WAVIER TRIAL, which means that you can have a trial with in 15 court days.
a. This decision to do this should be made with the consultation of an experienced juvenile dependency lawyer. And it has to be made that day before you go see the judge for the first time.
8. If your children are ordered detained (put in foster care or with a relative) at this hearing, you have a right to a Rehearing within 3 judicial days.
9. Never leave the court house without a copy of all the paper work filed in your case
10. Always as the for a copy of the court minutes order. There may be a delay in getting this, but the delay should be no more than 1 day.
11. Before you leave court that day, be sure and make an appointment to meet with your attorney to go over the documents, and to plan a legal strategy.
Recently, I have been contacted by parents around the state of California who want a second “opinion” about their cases. Call me I am available for such consultations at a reasonable price.