OLR Research Report

July 29, 2010




By: Ryan F. O'Neil, Research Assistant

You asked for police policies on taking juveniles (i.e., people under age 17) into custody.


We asked 20 municipal police departments for copies of their policies and procedures; six departments responded — Enfield, Glastonbury, New London, Trumbull, Vernon, and West Hartford. The policies and procedures did not differ between towns. The following procedures on arresting, detaining, and releasing juveniles is taken from the information provided by the six departments that responded.


The procedures for handling juvenile offenders lay out a set of options for the arresting officer, which are:

1. give a verbal warning and release the individual;

2. conference with the juvenile, the parent(s), teachers, or other people;

3. refer the juvenile to Youth Services or another community agency;

4. make a non-custodial arrest using a juvenile summons and complaint and a promise to appear in court;

5. make a custodial arrest and release using a juvenile summons;

6. make a custodial arrest based on an arrest warrant; or

7. make a custodial arrest and subsequent transfer to juvenile detention.

Non-custodial Arrest

The procedures for a non-custodial arrest using a juvenile summons are complaint and promise to appear are:

1. notify the juvenile and his or her parent or legal guardian of the arrest;

2. serve the juvenile summons on the child and his or her parent, guardian, or other person having control of the child; and

3. request that the parent, guardian, or other person execute the written promise to appear portion of the juvenile summons, which entails them promising to appear in court at the time and place the summons specifies.

If the parent, guardian, or other person refuses to sign the summons, the officer still releases the juvenile, but makes a notation on the summons that the parent, guardian, or other person refused to sign.

Custodial Arrest

Arrest Processing. Juveniles who are brought to the police department must be separated from adult offenders at all times. If there are no adult offenders in the booking area, then the juvenile may be booked there. The juvenile must be removed and relocated before any adult offender is brought into the booking room.

Photographs and fingerprints. A juvenile of any age who is charged with a crime and taken into custody should be photographed and fingerprinted. When submitting juvenile fingerprints to the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, officers must use the juvenile designation. Officers must label all identification material “juvenile” and keep it separate from adult identification material.

Secure Holding within the Police Department. Only juveniles alleged to have committed a criminal act may be held in a secure area. Secure areas within the police department include cells and lockable rooms (regardless if they are locked). Juveniles must be monitored at all times while being detained and may be held in a secure area for a maximum of six hours.

Holding Logs. Juvenile holding logs are located in a separate juvenile detention log book. The holding log must be completed for each detained juvenile. Original log forms will remain in the log book. When the juvenile is released, a copy of the log is sent to records and filed with the case report. Whenever any person under the age of 17 is held in a secure area for any length of time, it must be logged in the juvenile detention log book.

Parental Notification. After arresting a juvenile, an officer must notify the juvenile's parent or legal guardian regarding:

1. the whereabouts of the child,

2. the nature of the charges, and

3. the police department's planned course of action.


Juveniles have all the same Constitutional rights as adult suspects and must be advised of their Miranda rights. This applies to in-custody arrests or interviews conducted out of the police department (e.g., the child's home, a hospital room). When an officer re-interviews a juvenile, the officer must advise the juvenile of his or her rights again.

The juvenile's parent or guardian must be present during the interview.



An officer may release a juvenile offender to the custody of a parent or other suitable person or agency. In such a case, the officer issues a juvenile summons and complaint and promise to appear form.

At the discretion of a supervisor, an officer may release a 16-year-old juvenile to his or her own custody. If the officer does release such a juvenile to his or her own custody, the officer must make reasonable efforts to notify and provide a copy of the written complaint and summons to the parent, guardian, or other suitable person or agency before the court date. The officer must document all efforts and steps taken to notify the parent or guardian in the arrest report. If attempts to contact the parent or guardian are unsuccessful, the officer must send a copy of the summons by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the parent or guardian's home address.

Juvenile Detention

An officer may choose to transport the juvenile to a juvenile detention facility. If this is done, the police will not issue a summons. The juvenile detention centers will accept only juveniles:

1. charged with a “serious juvenile offense,”

2. who are the subject of an outstanding arrest warrant or other court order to take the individual into custody, or

3. ordered by the court to be held in detention.

Offenses that fall under “serious juvenile offense” include:

1. illegal manufacturing, distribution, sale, dispensing, compounding, and transporting drugs with the intent to sell or dispense;

2. selling, delivering or transferring a pistol or revolver to anyone who is prohibited from possessing one;

3. making false statements in connection with the sale, delivery, or transfer of a pistol or revolver;

4. carrying a pistol or revolver without a permit;

5. risk of injury to a minor;

6. manufacturing a bomb;

7. sale or transfer of an assault weapon;

8. possession of an assault weapon, sawed-off shotgun, or silencer;

9. extortionate extension of credit;

10. murder;

11. assault;

12. sexual assault or rape;

13. promoting prostitution;

14. kidnapping or unlawful restraint;

15. burglary;

16. arson;

17. extortion;

18. car theft;

19. robbery;

20. hindering prosecution and interfering with a police officer;

21. conveying controlled drugs into a prison;

22. employing a minor in an obscene performance;

23. stealing a firearm;

24. criminal use of a firearm or electronic defense weapon; and

25. running away, without just cause, from any secure placement other than home while referred as a delinquent child to the Court Support Services Division or committed as a delinquent child to Department of Children and Families (DCF) for a serious juvenile offense.

Prior to transferring a juvenile to detention, an officer should (1) contact the detention facility to verify that space is available and the facility is able to accept the juvenile and (2) prepare a referral form and attach a notarized police report outlining the alleged conduct of the juvenile.

Officers who arrest and detain a juvenile who cannot be brought to a juvenile detention center may apply to a Superior Court judge for an order to detain.

If detention is sought solely because a parent or guardian cannot be reached or refuses to take the juvenile home, the officer must first notify DCF. An order to detain may only be requested if DCF is unable or unwilling to provide shelter within a reasonable period of time.