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    Can I be put in jail?

    Date: 09.10.07 | by Judge Tom.

    If you′re locked up by the police or because of a court order, against your will and away from  home, you′re most likely in jail. It may be referred to as detention, lock-up, secure care, or some other less harsh term than jail, but your freedom is still restricted.

    At the point you first become involved with the police, you may experience a stay in detention. If you′re arrested, you can be taken into custody and held for approximately forty-eight hours. If formal charges aren′t filed within that period, you′ll be released. If charges are filed, you′ll appear in court within a day or two, and the judge will decide if you′ll be detained further or released to a responsible person.

    • In October of 2003, nearly 92,000 delinquents were held in residential placement facilities.
    • The average jail stay is 1 year for crimes against persons, 271 days for sexual assault, and 107 days for weapons offenses.

    Source: Juvenile Offenders and Victims: A National Report, National Center for Juvenile Justice (2006)

    If you′re a danger to yourself or others, you may be held until the next hearing. This could be several weeks. If you′re found not guilty, you′ll be released. If you′re found guilty by the court or you plead guilty, you may be detained until sentencing takes place. At that point, you may receive additional time in a locked facility. Or you may be placed on probation with a designated number of days in detention.

    There are any number of opportunities to lock you up once you′re in the juvenile system. If you′re placed on probation and you violate your terms, you′re sure to spend time in detention. If you′re sent to the juvenile department of corrections, you could remain there until you′re eighteen or older depending on your state.You’ll stay until you complete your sentence, or until the department releases you on parole.

    States differ on the length of stay for juveniles in locked facilities. Teenagers who are determined by the court to be incorrigible [out of their parent’s control] may also be locked up. This often happens with teenagers who are chronic runaways or who are out of control at home. Courts are reluctant to release teens knowing they′ll be on the streets that night.

    In some states, the law requires that detained teens be kept separate from adult prisoners. Many facilities around the country are separate buildings where no contact with adults is possible. Teenagers who are tried as adults and sentenced to jail or prison may also be kept separate until they turn eighteen. Then they join the general adult prison population. A scary thought!

    Take a look at “They Broke the Law–You Be the Judge” by Free Spirit Publishing (2003) for 21 true cases of kids who have spent from several hours in jail to years in juvenile and adult corrections for their acts. Read in their own words what they learned from their lock-up experiences.

    States set their own minimum age that a young person may be locked up. In Arizona, for example, an 8-year-old child can be charged with a crime and detained. On the other hand don’t think you’re ever too old to be jailed. In January, 2011, John Franzese was sentenced to 8 years in prison for extortion. Franzese was known as the underboss of the Colombo crime family in New York. He was 93 when sentenced.

    On the lighter side:  If you’re curious about what it’s like to be in jail, consider a trip to the Lengholmen Hotel in Sweden. Until 1975 it was Stockholm’s Crown Prison. The early 19th-century building  has since reopened as an off-the-beaten-track experience. The cells are the same size, but you do get your own key to come and go as you please.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    7 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • derrek
      Sat, 26 Jun 2010 at 09:52

      recently my friend was given a infraction ticket by mta securities for fare evasion. the paper said he has to go to court before july 4. my friend however refuses to, i keep telling him that he can get arrested then his mom is gonna cry for him he laughs and says that they cant arrest you for that. my question is can get arrested for not showing up to court or will they just fined him and let it go? derrek from hollywood ca
      Dear Derrek: Oftentimes when a person misses court, the hearing will be reset and he’ll receive notice of the new date. If he misses a second or third time the court has the option of issuing a warrant for the person’s arrest. If and when your friend has contact with the police again [traffic citation, etc.] and they check their computer the warrant may show up. If that happens then he could be arrested on the warrant and taken before a judge. It’s really not worth the hassle and increased penalties for avoiding court. He should show up on the date of his hearing, face the music and end this rather minor infraction before it escalates. Good luck.
      [This is information only – not legal advice].

    • eva
      Mon, 28 Jun 2010 at 11:22

      about a months ago i was sentence by the judge to do community service of around 10 to 20 hours i think i dont remeber the point is i didnt do it wat could happen to me i really just forgot to do it. im from inglewood ca
      Dear Eva: The judge has a number of options and will consider several factors including the offense, whether you have been compliant with the other terms of your sentence/probation and why you failed to be compliant with completing the community service. The judge may give you an extension to get the hours completed, and may impose a fine or more hours. Keep in mind that jail or detention time may also be an option for the judge, but is not likely if this is your first time going to court on the matter. Good luck.
      [This is information only – not legal advice.]

    • joel mj
      Mon, 05 Jul 2010 at 07:08

      hey i just turned 18 years old on july 1 and i am dating a 16 year old whos about to turn 17 on july 7…ive been told that i can get arrested for dating a 17 years old because shes consider a minor and im not is this true or false? imean is just one year older common.
      Dear Joel: It’s unlikely that just dating a 16 or 17-year-old is illegal. States do have laws about sexual intercourse with minors. You’ll have to check your state’s laws on this. Google the name of your state and the words “statutory rape.” That’s what sex with an underage minor is called. It’s good that you’re asking about this in advance so you can avoid getting into trouble. Good luck.
      [This is information only – not legal advice].

    • tony jerven
      Mon, 05 Jul 2010 at 07:13

      so i just finish reading this article online where a black senator was called the n…. word by a white citizen who opposed the healthcare bill. in this article it said the black senator decided not to press charges against the white citizen ..in my mind i was like are nyou serious.. and it freedom of speech to say what you want and it on the constitution rights… so can he really ger charged even if the constitution says freedom of speech … and what can be the worst that can happen?
      Dear Tony: You’re right about the Constitution and Bill of Rights providing all of us freedom of speech and expression. However, those rights are not absolute – they’re not without limits depending on the circumstances. For example, you can’t stand up in a crowded theater and yell “Fire” for a joke. If you did you would be held responsible for any personal injury or property damage as a consequence of your speech. So speech is not always protected. “Fighting words” is an example of speech that is unprotected under the law. They include words that are known to be incendiary – to bring about a quick response and likely lead to a fight or brawl. The “N” word is such a word in many circumstances. Or wearing a symbol of a Confederate flag to school when you know there’s already racial tension on campus. We hope this helps you understand some of the limits to free speech. Thanks for asking.
      [This is information only – not legal advice].

    • Michelle
      Wed, 04 May 2011 at 02:03

      I know someone that is in jail. There is one person saying they they were raped by the other party, but there is no evidence. The person in jail is an outstanding citizen and has been in lock up for about a month now. The accuser is a known liar. Is it legal for the court to keep them in jail?
      Dear Michelle: Rape is a serious crime, one that is taken very seriously by the court, prosecutor and victim. In such cases, the judge will either set a high bond or order that the accused remain in jail without bail. Once a determination is made at trial or plea proceeding regarding guilt or innocence, he may ask to be released. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Jennifer
      Sun, 16 Nov 2014 at 07:29

      Last night my usually intelligent daughter was arrested for shoplifting. She is 17 and between her and a friend they stole more than $2000 worth of stuff (that’s what the police said). She has no record, is a great student and was on the right track until now. What is the possible outcome regarding sentencing? I am very frightened for her and her future.
      Dear Jennifer: What will happen depends on the shoplifting laws in your state, the policies of the prosecutor and the judge assigned to your daughter’s case. Because of the amount involved, she may not be eligible for diversion. If she is allowed to complete a diversion program, after she finishes some community service, the case will be closed and she won’t have a record. Otherwise, she may be given probation with specific terms to follow. If she has been banned from the store, tell her not to return or she could be facing an additional charge of trespass. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Tyler
      Sat, 06 Dec 2014 at 03:58

      A few months before I turned 18, about 2 months or so, I got caught shoplifting with a friend and we did the diversion program and I closed my case. A month or so later I got caught, this time being 18, stealing 3 items from a thrift store due to losing my job and being in a bad state at the time, it was dumb and I would never even dream of doing it again. I was told if asked I can say no, I have had no prior offenses, I have a court date this upcoming Monday, are they going to arrest me? What will the judge say? Please help I’m completely in the dark about this and so terrified.
      Dear Tyler: You don’t need to worry about being arrested over this. Depending on the laws in your state as well as the court’s rules/policies, you could be offered diversion a second time since you were still a minor for the first offense. Either way, you are probably facing community service, a fine and possibly having to attend a class or counseling. We hope you learned this time as the consequences are going to increase for additional offenses. Good luck.
      (Check our Resource Directory for more help and resources in your area. This is information only – not legal advice.)

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