Crimes and Tickets

Detention Before Trial and Conditional Release: The Parents' Role


Is your teenager suspected of committing a crime? This article explains what happens in these cases:

  • Your child is being detained in a youth centre before seeing a judge or going to trial.
  • Your child was released by a judge on specific conditions.

You will learn about the youth criminal process and how you can support your child.

Detention and Appearance

After being caught by police, teenagers can be detained in a youth centre while waiting to appear in front of a judge. Detention usually lasts less than 24 hours.

If this happens to your child, you will be told where your child is being detained as soon as possible. If the police cannot reach you, they can contact another adult your child knows.

Teenagers who are detained will go before a judge. This can happen at the beginning of the court process during what is called an appearance. It can also happen at a hearing to determine whether the teen can be released. In either case, the judge must decide

  • whether to release the teen under specific conditions, or
  • detain the teen until trial.

It is strongly recommended that you go to court with your child for the appearance. Your child has a right to be represented by a lawyer.

Conditional Release

The judge can decide to let your child go home until the trial. Sometimes the judge will order your child to obey specific conditions.

Conditions are orders that must be obeyed. They depend on the teen’s situation. For example, the judge might order the teen not to have contact with a specific person.

Teens must obey these conditions until the entire court process is over. The process is over either after trial and sentencing or if the case is dismissed by a judge.

A teen who does not obey the conditions could be accused of another crime often called a violation of conditions. It is a crime not to obey a judge’s orders.

Support your child during this process. Your child’s lawyer can answer any questions you have about the conditions.

Detention Until Trial

The judge can order that your child be detained until the trial.

Judges make this decision for different reasons. Here are some of the reasons:

  • The crime is very serious.
  • The teenager is accused of several crimes.
  • The teenager has been found guilty of a crime in the past.

The judge must be satisfied that detention is necessary

  • for the public’s safety or protection, or
  • because there is a chance the teen will not show up in court.

Where Will the Teenager Be Detained?

People under 18 can be detained in a youth centre.

They can also be placed in the care of a responsible person. In many cases, the teen must live with that person all the time, except when going to school or work.

The responsible person may be a parent or a member of the immediate family. The person must make these promises in writing:

  • to take care of the teen
  • to make sure the teen obeys the conditions and appears in court

If you agree to take on this role, you are making a promise to the court. You could be accused of a crime if your promise or the child’s promises are not kept.

If you no longer want this responsibility, you must ask the court to release you of your promise.