Bail for juveniles

Learn about the bail process for minors (children between 12 and 18) after they are arrested or detained. Juveniles are allowed bail, with some exceptions.

Table of Contents

When a minor is arrested or detained

During court hours

Police must complete the booking process and then bring the juvenile to the Juvenile Court.

After court hours

Police will immediately contact at least 1 of the child’s parents.  If there is no parent, they will contact the guardian or custodian who the child lives with or the Department of Children and Families (DCF) if the child is in their custody. 

After contacting the parent/custodian, the Office in Charge (OIC) of the station will decide whether to release the juvenile or contact a Bail Magistrate or Bail Commissioner to set a bail or conditions of release.

The police may also contact a Department of Children and Families (DCF) representative if: 

  • The police can’t find the parents or guardians
  • The parents/guardians don’t want to take the child, or 
  • The child would have to go back to a dangerous situation at home if they were released.

If a juvenile between 14 and 18 has been arrested on a warrant or if the OIC of the police station asks to detain the juvenile in writing, the OIC will contact the Bail Magistrate/Bail Commissioner. Bail can’t be set on 12 or 13 year old juveniles.

Just as with adults that are arrested, the Bail Magistrate/Bail Commissioner will set bail and/or release terms and conditions based on:

  • The juvenile’s current charge(s) 
  • The circumstances of the arrest 
  • Juvenile history, and/or 
  • The directions in the arrest warrant 

Release

Generally, only a parent or guardian can pay a juvenile’s bail. In certain cases, the parent or guardian may authorize someone else to post the bail.

"No bail" offenses

An arrested juvenile may be held without bail if the juvenile has: 

  • Violated the terms and conditions of their probation, so a warrant has been issued for their arrest (called a Probation Warrant or VOP Warrant
  • Has a default warrant for a crime with a potential penalty of over 100 days in jail, (see how bail is set for more information) or
  • Has been charged with murder or violating a restraining order

Contact

Phone

Catherine M. Coughlin, Esquire (617) 788-7312

Address

Suffolk County Courthouse
3 Pemberton Square
Room 320
Boston, MA 02108
Last updated: March 18, 2022
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