My Kid Was Arrested. What Will Happen?

From the United States Attorneys’ Manual

Arrest of a Juvenile

A juvenile may be arrested on a warrant issued on either a complaint or a juvenile information. When arrest is unnecessary, the court may be asked to issue a summons on the complaint or information. In either case, it is advisable to have the complaint and/or information placed under seal to avoid public disclosure of the juvenile’s identity.

By statute, the officer arresting a juvenile is required to advise a juvenile of his rights in language intelligible to a juvenile, and must immediately notify the Attorney General (notice to the United States Attorney is sufficient) and the juvenile’s parent, guardian, or custodian of the arrest. The arresting officer is also required to notify the parent, guardian, or custodian of the rights of the juvenile and of the nature of the alleged offense. The juvenile must be taken before a judicial officer as soon as possible and, in any case, within a reasonable period of time. 18 U.S.C. § 5033. The duties and limitations on magistrates are set forth in 18 U.S.C. §§ 3401(g) and 5034.

Juveniles in the Court System

Before a United States Attorney may certify a juvenile to be proceeded against in a court of the United States, an investigation must occur. In cases of exclusive United States jurisdiction, the United States Attorney should, at a minimum, research the applicable case and statutory law. It is also advisable to obtain the concurrence of the local prosecutor in a finding of exclusivity of jurisdiction. It should be noted that local juvenile prosecution based upon in loco parentis jurisdiction may be available and preferable even if the offense took place on a federal enclave. A release to state authorities of juveniles who are alleged to have committed an act of juvenile delinquency on a United States military base or other federal enclave is not precluded by the fact of the enclave’s “exclusive jurisdiction” status. As long as the state is willing to accept jurisdiction over the juvenile and has available programs and services adequate for the needs of juveniles, a juvenile may properly be turned over to the state for non-criminal juvenile treatment. When a juvenile is charged with committing a violation of federal law on an exclusive jurisdiction enclave, the United States Attorney should determine whether the state is willing to assume jurisdiction over the juvenile and has adequate juvenile programs available. Such a determination may be made on a case-by-case basis after consultation with the local prosecutor, or it may be based on a general understanding reached with the local prosecutor regarding the state’s willingness to assume jurisdiction over juveniles who commit offenses on federal enclaves. As to Indian juveniles, jurisdictional questions may be directed to Ezra Friedman of the Office of Enforcement Operations.

In cases of concurrent jurisdiction, the appropriate local prosecutor should be briefed on the facts of the case, and a determination made as to whether he/she is accepting or refusing prosecutorial responsibilities in the matter. If a local prosecutor refuses to assume jurisdiction over the juvenile, federal prosecutors may wish to consider whether it would be helpful to attach a confirming letter from the local prosecutor to the certification filed with the court.

With regard to the adequacy of state juvenile programs and services, the United States Attorney should request that the Chief Probation Officer in the judicial district conduct periodic investigations into the state juvenile corrections system to determine whether there are available programs and services adequate for the needs of juveniles. Federal prosecutors may wish to consider whether it would be helpful to attach to the certification a statement from the probation officer addressing the adequacy of local programs.

The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 allows certification for federal juvenile prosecution in felony crimes of violence, or an offense described in 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(x), 924(b),(g), or (h), or 21 U.S.C. §§ 841, 952(a), 953, 955, 959, or 960(b)(1), (2), or (3) where there is a “substantial federal interest in the case or offense to warrant the exercise of federal jurisdiction.” The federal government will continue to defer to state authorities for less serious juvenile offenses. See S.Rep. No. 98-225, 98th Cong., 1st Sess. 389 (1983). The determination of a “substantial federal interest” is based on a finding by the United States Attorney that the nature of the offense or the circumstances of the case give rise to federal concerns. Id. Examples include assault on or assassination of a federal official; aircraft hijacking; interstate kidnaping; espionage or sabotage activity; large-scale drug trafficking; and willful destruction of United States property.

If, after investigation, any one of the above factors are found to exist, the United States Attorney shall proceed with the certification. The certification should state that an investigation was made and, as a result of the investigation, which of the factors allowing federal jurisdiction was found to exist.

Sentencing a Juvenile

Upon an adjudication of delinquency, the judge has discretion to impose any of the conditions listed in 18 U.S.C. § 5037. These include restitution, probation (and conditions of probation), and official detention, but not fines. There are currently no sentencing guidelines which are applicable to juvenile proceedings.Official detention may not extend beyond the defendant’s twenty-first birthday for defendants under eighteen at the time of disposition, or five years for defendants between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one at the time of disposition. In addition, the period of detention may not exceed the maximum period of imprisonment statutorily authorized for adult defendants.

Juveniles sentenced to official detention are committed to the custody of the Attorney General. The Federal Bureau of Prisons designates a place of confinement. Juveniles may not be placed in an institution in which they have “regular contact” with adults convicted of crimes or awaiting trial on criminal charges. There are at present no federal facilities for juveniles; the Bureau of Prisons ordinarily places them in state juvenile or other suitable facilities under contract. When possible, they are to be placed in foster homes or community-based facilities located in or near their home communities. See 18 U.S.C. § 5039.

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