141 Kids and the Law Is the child entitled to an attorney? Yes. All children, regardless of the financial status of their parents or guardians, have the right to be represented by an attorney. Frequently, before the child goes into the courtroom, probation reports to the clerk or judge whether the parent will hire an attorney or whether the court needs to appoint an attor- ney. The attorney will be present in the courtroom with the child during the arraignment. If the family cannot afford an attorney, an attorney will be appointed to repre- sent the child at no cost. The child can ask the judge to consider diverting the case even before they are arraigned. The court could consider this request and make a decision within 14 days. What happens at the arraignment? The charges against the child will be read aloud in the courtroom and the child will enter a plea of “not delinquent.” Prior to the formal arraignment, the attor- ney may ask that the charges be dismissed if the attorney believes there was no probable cause to issue the complaint. Present in the courtroom with the child, parent or guardian and attorney will be the judge, the clerk, the probation officer, and an assistant district attorney. Does a parent or guardian always need to be present? Yes. Until a child turns 18, a parent or guardian must be present for all court proceedings. If the parent or guardian does not come, the court can issue a summons for the adult to appear and continue the proceedings. In some cases, if there is no parent or guardian available to advise the child, the court will appoint a “Guardian ad Litem,” to act as an independent adult to advise the child. What if the ADA or probation officer asks to hold the child on bail? The ADA or probation officer may ask the judge not to release the child until a certain sum of money (bail) is deposited with the court. The purpose of bail is to make sure that the child will appear for all court dates. If bail is request- ed, the defense attorney will argue that the child be released without anyone having to pay bail or will ask for the amount to be as low as possible. The judge will decide whether to set bail or to release the child to the parent, guardian or custodian’s custody. If bail is set and someone puts up the money, the child is Delinquent Children 11