Hawaii’s Juvenile Laws and Court System

In Hawaii, minors can face legal punishment in two ways: First, they can break a law, Second, they can violate a status offense, which is something illegal for minors but not adults. Common status offenses are running away, staying out after curfew, and skipping class.

If a minor is taken into custody by the police, or someone makes a report to law enforcement, the next step is the intake process. An intake officer decides what happens next. An juvenile won’t be sent to court for every issue. In some cases, the intake officer decides that community diversion is more appropriate. A community program can be used to provide education, mental health care, and other services to put someone back on the right track. But more serious issues will be referred to juvenile court.

If you’re a parent who has received a letter from Family Court or a call from the police saying your child’s in trouble, call a juvenile criminal defense attorney right away. This issue won’t necessarily go to court or lead to a harsh penalty. But your child can and should be represented throughout the process. Michael Fayard will push for the best possible outcome for your son or daughter.

Can a Teen Be Arrested?

Yes, a teenager can be arrested and detained. The police can hold a minor for up to 6 hours in a metropolitan area or up to 24 hours in a rural area. A minor can be sent to a court-designated juvenile detention facility. If a minor is detained, a hearing must be scheduled within 24 hours (excluding weekends and holidays).

Tell Your Child Not to Talk to the Police

If your child gets in trouble with the police, they should know they have the right to remain silent and to have an attorney. Your son or daughter shouldn’t talk with the police or answer an officer’s questions. Teach them to say, “I am invoking my right to remain silent and have an attorney.”

Common Juvenile Crimes

Michael Fayard can defend your child when they’re accused of:


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The Juvenile Court Process

A court intake officer is responsible for whether a minor’s case is closed, diverted to community resources, goes through informal adjustment, or heads to Family Court. An informal adjustment is an agreement with the child’s parents that can last up to three months before a judge reviews the situation. It can involve community service, restitution, work, education, community-based programs, and other requirements. Attorney Fayard might push for your teen to go through an informal adjustment to avoid a traumatic court experience.

If the matter is serious or informal adjustment fails, a petition is filed, and it becomes a matter for a judge. The judge will review the case and decide whether monitoring is appropriate. If the teen can fulfill certain conditions during court monitoring, the judge dismisses the case. This is another step in the process attorney Fayard can help with. This process might not be fun for your teen, but it can be better to focus on rehabilitation efforts than to have an offense on their record.

A teen’s case may go through adjudication. There are no jury’s for juvenile crimes, but there are still hearings where evidence is presented to the judge. You should have a juvenile lawyer represent your child during this process. If the judge finds the adolescent is responsible for a status offense or breaking the law, they decide the teen’s punishment.

Can a Teen Be Jailed?

A teenager won’t be sentenced to jail time or imprisonment with adults. But a judge can order that a teenager be detained in a Hawaii juvenile detention center if they’re found to be a status offender or delinquent.

The Detention Services Branch administers the Hale Ho`omalu Juvenile Detention Facility, which is a secure 24-hour facility. It also administers Home Maluhia, a non-secure facility for teens who committed minor law violations or status offenses and focuses on counseling and rehabilitative services.

Talk with Michael Fayard right away about when juvenile judges tend to order detention and what it could mean for your child. A judge has the discretion to order whatever punishment is in the youth’s best interest. Attorney Fayard will argue that includes supervision, counseling, and other conditions instead of detention.

Can a Teen Be Detained During Their Case?

Yes, in some cases, a judge can order a child to stay in a detention center while their case goes through the court system. This might be because the child doesn’t have a safe place to live, is at risk for running away, or is considered dangerous to others.

Family Court Services to Know About

Here are some services and courts in the juvenile system to know about:

  • Juvenile Client Services, Juvenile Specialized Services Section: In charge of intake, screening, and counseling services.
  • Juvenile Client Services, Juvenile Intake and Probation Section: Monitors and supervises juveniles required to complete conditions for informal adjustment or found to be delinquent.
  • Juvenile Drug Court: A post-adjudication treatment-based drug court program.
    Family Drug Court: Court-monitored services, including substance abuse treatment and parent education.
  • Hawaii Girls Court: A gender-specific program for young women, includes counseling, community service, group court sessions, and educational and recreational activities.

As an experienced juvenile criminal attorney, Michael Fayard can guide your family through this and other court programs.

He is relentless to ensure his clients are well taken care of.”

- Cliff T

When Can a Minor be Tried as an Adult?

Generally, before a minor’s 18th birthday, the family court has jurisdiction over them. Once they turn 18 years old, they’ll be tried as an adult for any offense. Also, the family court can keep jurisdiction over someone after their 18th birthday until the court order’s term expires.

Hawaii also allows for discretionary transfers for:

  • Teenagers who are at least 16 years old and commit felony offenses; or
  • Teens who are at least 14 years old and commit a Class A felony, cause serious bodily harm, or were previously adjudicated delinquent (guilty of a crime).

The possibility of your child being tried as an adult is one of many reasons why you should hire a juvenile defense attorney as soon as possible. Having an experienced criminal lawyer advocate for them to be charged as a minor and remain in the Family Court system is important.

Call a Juvenile Defense Attorney Today

As adults, we’re hardly perfect. We can’t expect our kids to be either. Teenagers are constantly learning and growing, and along the way, they might make the wrong choices. They might be influenced by the wrong people or fall victim to cycles of abuse, neglect, and alcohol and drug abuse. The juvenile court system is meant to get minors back on the right track, not harshly punish them. But it’s still a criminal court process that can have serious consequences, which is why a lawyer should represent your son or daughter. Call Michael Fayard at 808-445-6708 today to set up a free consultation.