31 Kids and the Law What are the rights of parents and guardians in a CRA case? The parent or guardian of the child has the following rights in a CRA case: • The right to be notified of all court hearings. • The right to attend all court hearings. • The right to be represented by an attorney at any hearing in which the judge is considering removing the child from a parent or guardian’s cus- tody. If the parent or guardian cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one. Otherwise, there is no right to an attorney for the parent or guardian at these hearings, but the parent or guardian can always hire one. • The right to have a language interpreter present in court if the parent or guardian does not speak or understand English. What happens at a Preliminary Hearing? At the Preliminary Hearing, the court does not have to accept the CRA appli- cation. The court can: 1. Dismiss the application because there is no probable cause (reason to be- lieve) the child is in need of assistance; 2. Decide not to accept the application and order informal assistance instead (see below); or 3. Accept the application and schedule a Fact-Finding Hearing. If a CRA application is dismissed before a Fact-Finding Hearing, the judge will enter an expungement order (an order to destroy the records related to the case). What happens if a child does not appear at the Preliminary Hearing? If a child gets a summons and does not go to court for the Preliminary Hearing, a judge may issue a Warrant of Protective Custody. This is similar to an arrest warrant. It is sent to the local police department where the child is believed to be located and it allows a police officer to search for the child and take the child into custody. The officer immediately takes the child to the court that issued the warrant. Child Requiring Assistance 4