Formal Referral

When a juvenile is taken into custody and transported to the Detention Center by a law enforcement officer, this is known as a formal referral. A formal referral may also result from a Judge ordering a juvenile into custody either at a hearing, or by issuing a Directive to Apprehend (DTA). All formally referred juveniles are physically detained and brought to the detention center by a law enforcement agency or juvenile probation officer and processed through the Intake Unit.

The Intake Unit is operational 24 hours a day. The unit is staffed by juvenile probation officers, who are certified by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. The Intake Unit juvenile probation officer is responsible for making critical decisions regarding whether a juvenile should be held in a secure detention facility or released to the custody of a parent, guardian, or custodian.

Woman Sitting Behind an Admissions DeskAdmissions Process

Juvenile Probation Officer Responsibilities

When a child is brought to the Intake Unit, the JPO must:

  • Ensure that the individual meets the age criteria to be held in the Detention Center. In Texas, the ages of juvenile jurisdiction are 10 through 16. A 17-year-old may be held at the detention center if he/she was under the age of 17 when the referred offense was alleged to have been committed or has violated a condition of probation.
  • Ensure that any child arriving at the Intake Unit who appears to need emergency medical or mental health care, is cleared by a medical or mental health professional prior to admission.
  • Thoroughly review the arresting officer’s offense report and make a determination as to whether or not there exists probable cause to believe that the juvenile committed the offense being alleged. Search the Texas Constitution and Statutes

Medical & Mental Health Screening

While completing the admission process, juveniles undergo a medical and mental health screening.

Boy Sitting at a TableDecision to Release or Hold


When a decision is made to release the child, the JPO will make contact with a parent or guardian to arrange for the child’s release.

Holding for Court

If a child is going to be held for court, then the JPO will make contact with a parent/guardian and will provide that person with the following information:

  • The fact that your child is at the Denton County Juvenile Detention Center
  • An explanation of the offense
  • A Detention Hearing will be held the next working day at 8 am in the Denton County Court-At-Law Number 1 located in the Charlie Cole Building. If the juvenile is brought to the Detention Center on a weekend or holiday, the hearing will be held on the next business day at 8 am

During this initial phone conversation, the JPO will ask questions about the following information:

  • Any medical or mental health concerns regarding your child
  • Any medication that your child is currently taking. You will need to bring the medication to the Detention Center to comply with the physician’s orders.
  • Any physical or mental health conditions of which the Detention Center supervisory staff should be made aware

During this initial intake, your child will:

  • Complete a health-screening questionnaire
  • Complete the intake process and be given a secure individual room
  • Have an Inventory of all the personal clothing and other items that he or she brought to detention