Preliminary Hearings

A preliminary hearing is the first hearing that is held when a juvenile is detained pursuant to a petition, and is functionally similar to an arraignment in criminal court. The goal of a preliminary hearing is for the jurist to determine whether or not to authorize the petition and place the case on the court’s formal calendar. The court will also decide what to do with the juvenile pending the resolution of the case—either detaining the juvenile until trial or returning the juvenile to his or her parent, custodian, or guardian. Should the juvenile be returned home, the court may impose certain conditions of release, such as bond, or ordering the juvenile to refrain from certain activities, such as: violating the law, using alcohol, tobacco, or controlled substances, or staying out past curfew. The court may also require the juvenile to participate in certain activities, such as: substance abuse testing, and various types of treatment and assessment programs. It is important to note that, if these conditions are violated, the court may decide to detain the juvenile until trial.