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Juvenile Detention Center | What Is It Like in California?

Law Office of Katie Walsh
Juvenile Detention Center | What Is It Like in California?

Juvenile hall is a form of short-term detention for young people who have been arrested for various delinquent acts. These secure facilities house underage offenders while they await legal action on their case or placement in a long-term counseling or rehabilitation program. If your child has allegedly broken the law and is facing the consequences, navigating the fast-moving court process can be stressful. Here’s what you need to know about juvenile hall in Orange County.

What Is a Juvenile Detention Center?

While you may hear the phrases “juvenile hall” and “juvenile detention” used interchangeably, there’s a subtle difference between the two. Juvenile hall is a more temporary custody for a young person waiting for a court to handle their case. In contrast, a juvenile detention center is a longer-term placement for young people whose alleged offenses are more significant, leading a judge to order confinement.

Youth in juvenile detention have the constitutional right to:

  • Due process
  • Be free from cruel and unusual punishment
  • Equal protection
  • Free speech
  • Free exercise of religion
  • Counsel

What Happens in Juvenile Detention?

In general, most juvenile detention centers offer various programs and evidence-based services to support residents’ physical, emotional and social development. They have dormitories where the residents sleep, along with dining and recreational areas. Detained youth have opportunities to go outdoors, engage in physical exercise, participate in a range of recreational activities and practice their religion.

Facilities also have on-site medical and mental health facilities and classrooms where school-aged youth can continue to receive an education. Juvenile detention center staff are responsible for ensuring juveniles adhere to consistent daily routines and attend counseling as necessary to help with issues such as drug use or anger management.

Understanding California’s Juvenile Court System

In general, the law treats underage offenders differently from adults. For example, “status offenses” like truancy and curfew violations only constitute criminal acts when committed by minors aged 12 to 18. Juvenile court is where all cases of felonies, misdemeanors and status offenses allegedly committed by minors get heard. Crucially, most California prosecutors try to avoid pressing criminal charges, and instead try to direct young offenders to beneficial community programming.

In the California juvenile court system, the judge does not rule a minor guilty or innocent. Instead, if a judge finds the minor committed the alleged crime beyond a reasonable doubt, they will sustain the petition filed by the district attorney.

There are several different dispositions, or sentences, available in juvenile court. Informal probation is the mildest of these. The minor does not need to admit any allegations of wrongdoing, and their charges get dismissed when they successfully complete their program. At the other end of the spectrum is commitment to California’s Division of Juvenile Justice, which provides treatment and services to youthful offenders up to the age of 25 with more extensive criminal backgrounds.

Your Experienced Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney

As a former district attorney, Katie Walsh now uses her extensive legal expertise to provide families with the best possible results in every case. If your child is facing charges, you should have a knowledgeable attorney by your side to defend their case and walk you through the ins and outs of every stage of the process. Don’t entrust your family’s future to an attorney who lacks juvenile court experience. For your complimentary consultation, contact us today.

Client Reviews

I hired attorney Katie Walsh to help my son when he was found with a large amount of drugs on school campus. She got us through the Expulsion Hearing, and miraculously he can go back to school at the winter semester...

AR- parent of minor client

I hired Katie Walsh to have my felony convictions expunged. She was able to expunge my record within 6 weeks of me giving her all the information. Even though technically I had a probation violation, and therefore the...

AR, criminal client

My 16 year old son was charged with possession of Marijuana, HS 11357(b). I was very concerned about what would happen to him and how this would affect his future. I contacted Ms. Walsh and she assured me that everything...

CT, parent of juvenile client

My child was charged with Felony Penal Code 597(a)- Animal Cruelty. After hiring Katie Walsh, she got the charges reduced to a misdemeanor, counseling, and 40 hours of chores at home. We come back in 6 months and the...

DH - Parent of Juvenile client

I hired Katie Walsh to represent my son on sexual abuse allegations- P.C. 288(a) and P.C. 288(b)- they were Strike Charges. After negotiating with the D.A., she got all the strike charges dismissed, and got my son...

DR- mother of juvenile client

Katie Walsh was fantastic throughout this entire process! My 13 year old son was charged with two counts of lewd act on a minor, PC 288(a) and was in juvenile hall. After hiring Ms. Walsh, she GOT MY SON OUT OF JAIL and...

EG, parent of juvenile client

My 14 year old son was arrested at school for P.C. 311 (child pornography). My son had innocent and stupid nude pictures of himself and friends on his phone. Ms. Walsh was extremely easy to talk to, and made my son feel...

GK,TK, parents of juvenile client

Ms. Walsh was a life saver when I didn't know what was going on, or how to handle the situation. My young daughter was attacked at her middle school and was seriously injured. At a time when both the school and the...

HA, mother of 13 year old Victim Rights client

I hired Katie Walsh to seal my juvenile record of PC 288(a) (lewd act on a minor), after my request had been denied by a Judge and by the Probation Department. After speaking with Probation, the DA and the Judge at a...

JW, former juvenile client

I was charged with a Felony Conspiracy charge- PC 182. After hiring Ms. Walsh she got my charged reduced to a misdemeanor right away, and now I just have to do community service and in 6 months my entire case will be...

KP, juvenile client

Ms. Walsh was like a breath of fresh air throughout this entire process. I was uncertain about the outcome, but she told me everything would be ok- and it was. She had my juvenile record sealed within 3 months of...

LR, former juvenile client

Ms. Walsh got the judge to terminate my son's probation and seal his 2 juvenile cases (Penal Code 288(a) and Penal Code 242) even though he had violated my probation by picking up a new case. By getting his record sealed...

MB- mother of juvenile client

At a very difficult time in my life I contacted attorney Katie Walsh. I am a teacher and was being harassed/stalked by a parent at my school. I wanted a Restraining Order against this person. Ms. Walsh listened to me...

MB, restraining order client

My son was charged with Lewd Conduct, P.C. 647 out of Downey, CA. After hiring Ms. Walsh, she spoke with the District Attorney, Probation, and the Judge. Even though the judge was not pleased with the offer, she was able...

MG, parent of minor

It is with sincere gratitude that I send this recommendation As a parent of a child that was arrested on a Felony Domestic Abuse charge and over 2000 miles away I had to rely on friend of a friends word that you would...

MPF, mother of criminal client

I really liked having Ms. Walsh as my attorney. She visited me in Juvenile Hall. I was charged with four counts of Robbery (Penal Code 211). This was my 8th juvenile petition. Ms. Walsh got 2 of the robbery charges...

MU, juvenile client

I was arrested for a felony Domestic charge, PC 273.5(a). After I hired Katie Walsh, my entire case was dismissed. I never had to appear in court. I felt very comfortable with Ms. Walsh- she was easy to speak with...

NF, criminal client

Katie was instrumental in helping me with a criminal matter as an advocate for me and my children when I was a named victim in a DV case. She patiently and expediently addressed all of my questions and was an invaluable...


My daughter was pulled over arrested for having a Fake ID. After hiring Ms. Walsh my daughter did not have to plead guilty- which would have affected her license status. She did community service, completed a legal...


My 14 year old daughter was involved in an assault and battery- PC 240/242, in Irvine. After hiring Katie Walsh the case was not referred to Court. My daughter was able to complete a class and the case will be dismissed...

SG, mother a juvenile client

My son was charged with possession of Child Pornography P.C. 311.11(a) - a charge I did not realize a child could be guilty of! As parents were beside ourselves when we found this out, and contacted Katie Walsh. She...

SH- mother of juvenile client

From San Diego I contacted Ms. Walsh about sealing my juvenile record in Orange County regarding a Petty Theft charge. She was always very responsive to any of my questions, and consistently kept me updated. Even though...

XL, juvenile client

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