Are Juvenile Offenders Entitled To Bail?

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Teenager outdoors in gray hoodie extending arm with handcuff on one wrist

There were more than 7.5 million juvenile arrests in 2022 throughout the United States - with some 10,000 of those arrests being for murder and most of the rest being for less serious crimes like disorderly conduct, theft, and vandalism. That's a lot of underage kids seeing the inside of patrol cars. But what happens when a juvenile is arrested? Are they treated the same as an adult? Can they call a bail bond agent? In this post, we'll find out.

Do Juveniles Have a Right to Bail?

You'd have to be living under a pretty big rock not to understand that you have a right to be released on bail if you've been arrested. Every crime-related TV show and movie made in the past 50 years has reinforced that fact. (Of course, if you've been arrested for terrorism or some other outrageous act you may be refused bail.) But what about minors? Do they have the same right to bail after being arrested as adults do? Does bail even come into play with regard to juveniles?

Juveniles and the Bail Bond Company

Nowhere in the Constitution or Bill of Rights does it say you have an absolute right to bail. At the time those documents were being written bail had come to the US via centuries of English common law and was assumed to be a given. So the only mention of bail in the founding documents is a sentence in the 8th Amendment that prohibits "excessive bail”, though it doesn't define exactly what constitutes excessive.

The fact that bail was never mentioned specifically as a right, like freedom of speech or freedom of religion, has left the practice vulnerable to attacks from self-serving "reformers", (that's a story for another day) and called into question whether bail should be extended to minors. 200+ years of legal precedent, however, clearly demonstrates that bail and juveniles are not mutually exclusive. Yet while bail can be applied to juvenile offenders the process is not as black and white as it often is for adults.

The following are some of the things that will be considered when determining if a juvenile should be offered bail:

  • Whether the parents want their child bailed - Many feel it better that the child remains in custody for a time to teach them a lesson or scare them straight.
  • Whether the juvenile is believed to pose a danger to the community - Just because someone is 15 or 16 doesn't mean they are harmless.
  • Whether a bonding company is willing to post a bond for the juvenile - Because they're not an adult, a juvenile is forbidden from entering into a binding contract.
  • Whether the parents can afford bail - While companies like Tayler Made Bail Bonding offer affordable bail bonds, even the lowest bail bonding fees are too much for some parents to afford.

Juveniles are often held without bail even if an adult who allegedly committed the same offense is offered bail. For instance, an adult accused of a low-level handgun offense may be offered bail, whereas a juvenile accused of the same low-level handgun offense may not be offered bail.

Why the Different Treatment?

When a juvenile commits a crime it is assumed that they were not able to completely understand the long-term implications of what they did. As such, any response is designed to address their developmental well-being in the hope that they will see the error of their ways and resolve not to behave in the same way once they reach adulthood. In some cases, this approach works swimmingly. In other cases, not so much. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and if a juvenile is accused of committing a particularly terrible crime such as murder or rape, they will likely be denied bail no matter what.

Any Other Differences?

When an adult is arrested in Jefferson County or Denver County they are taken to the nearest jail where they are processed and either released or held until bail is posted or until they can have a bail hearing.

When a juvenile (for the record, defined as a person between 10 and 18 years of age) is arrested they are taken to the nearest Juvenile Services Center (JSC) instead of jail. If there is a question about their age but they seem to be at least 18 they may be mistakenly taken to jail until their age can be properly determined, at which time they would be transferred to the Juvenile Service Center.

Once at that JSC the staff members there review the matter by looking into the juvenile's criminal history and considering the nature of the crime they are accused of. If they have a lengthy juvenile record and are accused of a serious crime they may be moved directly to a juvenile detention facility. On the other hand, if it is their first offense and the alleged crime was not serious in nature they may be released to their parents and given a court date, or offered bail.

If the juvenile is remanded to a juvenile detention facility they must be given a detention hearing within 48 hours. This dovetails with the stipulation that adults must either be offered bail after being processed or given a bail hearing within 48 hours of being arrested.

If the juvenile is offered bail it will be indirectly through their parents or guardian because a bail bond agent will almost never work with a minor since they are not legally capable of entering into a binding contract.

The Bottom Line

Whereas bail is, and has for centuries now, been standard practice when dealing with adult offenders the issue of bail for juvenile offenders is not so clear cut. In many cases, juveniles will be released to the custody of their parents or guardian in situations where an adult may have to post bail. On the other hand, some juveniles will be denied bail in cases where adults would be routinely offered bail. The whole thing can be pretty confusing, we know.

If your child has been arrested and you are unsure how to proceed, call Tayler Made Bail Bonds at 303-623-0399. If appropriate we can provide affordable bail bonds 24 hours a day that will ensure your loved one can return home as soon as possible.

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Tayler Made Bail Bonding is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

(303) 623-0399
email@taylermadebailbonding.com
3595 South Teller Street
Suite 300A
Lakewood, CO 80235
@TaylerMadeBail