How Long Can a Juvenile Be Detained Without a Hearing in Georgia?

How Long Can a Juvenile Be Detained Without a Hearing in Georgia

When a minor is arrested in Georgia, they have certain rights and protections under juvenile law. One important protection is the right to a prompt detention hearing to determine if further detention is necessary.

Georgia statutes set strict limits on how long an arrested juvenile may be held without receiving a hearing.

Initial Custody and Detention Decisions

When a child is initially taken into police custody, the officer has several options. They may choose to release the youth to their parents. However, if they believe secure detention is required, perhaps due to concerns over public safety or the risk of the juvenile fleeing prosecution, the officer may bring the child to a juvenile detention center.

At the detention center, an intake officer will decide whether detention is appropriate given the charges and circumstances. If detention is approved, the juvenile may be temporarily held while awaiting the first hearing. Georgia law limits how long this detention period may last before the court must review the case.

5-Day Limit With Arrest Warrant

According to section § 15-11-502 of Georgia statutes, a detention hearing must be held within five days if a child is arrested and taken into custody under an arrest warrant. This includes weekends and holidays.

So, for a juvenile arrested based on an active warrant on a Wednesday morning, the hearing would need to occur by the following Monday at the latest. This ensures minors are not left sitting in detention for prolonged periods without justification.

2 Days If No Arrest Warrant

The rules are even stricter if a juvenile is detained without an existing arrest warrant. Georgia Code Section § 15-11-506 states that if a youth is held based on an officer’s on-site probable cause determination and not a warrant, the detention hearing must happen within two days.

So, following the same example, if an officer detained a juvenile on Wednesday morning without a warrant, the court would need to hold the first detention hearing by Friday, two days later. This accelerated hearing protection aims to prevent unwarranted long-term holds on children who have not yet received a judge’s independent finding of probable cause.

The Initial Detention Hearing

At these first juvenile detention hearings, within 2 or 5 days of taking a minor into custody, the court has several decisions to make. The judge will first evaluate if there was proper justification and legal grounds for arrest. They will also determine if continued secure detention is necessary pending adjudication of the case.

The prosecution may argue the youth poses an ongoing threat to the community or is likely to flee and not appear at future proceedings. The juvenile’s attorney may counter that they have stable family connections, are not dangerous, and do not justify further jailing. The judge will weigh these factors and either order continued detention or release the youth back home under certain probation-style conditions.

If detention is continued, the court must hold regularly scheduled subsequent hearings to review if ongoing detention remains appropriate throughout the case. But the crucial first hearing must be held within 2 or 5 days thanks to Georgia’s strict juvenile detention laws.

The Intent Behind the Tight Hearing Deadlines

By setting short maximum detention periods before a hearing, Georgia law aims to protect the due process rights of arrested juveniles. Children deserve prompt independent oversight when their liberty is at stake. Holding minors indefinitely without court approval goes against the principles of justice.

Another motivation is reducing unnecessary detention and minimizing harm to the youth. Even a few days in confinement can negatively impact kids. Removing them from school and family can disrupt key supports. And the juvenile justice system itself can introduce youth to negative influences. Georgia aims only to detain when essential, given these risks.

With public safety in mind as well, seeking less detention aligns with research showing confinement has diminishing or even counterproductive returns on reducing juvenile crime. Community-based supervision models often prove more constructive.

Contact a Georgia Juvenile Defense Attorney Today 

When an officer believes detaining a juvenile is essential for public safety or prosecution aims, Georgia law allows their initial secure confinement. However, the state strictly limits how long youth remain detained without seeing a judge. Minors arrested under a warrant must receive a detention hearing within five days. And a hearing must happen within just two days if no warrant exists.

At these prompt hearings, judges can then uphold or reverse the decision for continued detention, providing critical oversight and protecting juveniles from extended unjust deprivation of liberty. With childhood itself fleeting, justice delayed can indeed mean justice denied. Georgia aims to avoid this possibility.

If your teenager or young adult is facing criminal charges, contact the dedicated defense attorneys at Ghanouni Teen & Young Adult Defense Firm. Their team has over years of experience specializing in juvenile law and defending youth ages 13 to 25 in Georgia courtrooms. From shoplifting and underage drinking to violent severe offenses, Ghanouni Teen & Young Adult Defense Firm leverages extensive experience and youth-focused skills to protect their future.

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