When your child is facing criminal charges, your child’s future becomes your top priority. Juvenile Defense cases in Florida can be complex as they are often processed differently than adult court prosecutions. It is important to seek legal advice from an experienced Florida Juvenile Defense Attorney.

Court can be intimidating and the overcrowded Juvenile courts in Florida are difficult to navigate and manage. Your child’s future can be severely impacted by a Florida juvenile record. Employment, education, and many other opportunities are in jeopardy when you child is facing criminal charges.

 Florida Juvenile Defense

The Florida Juvenile Justice System is different from the adult court system because it focuses on rehabilitation, rather than punishment. The stages of processing in the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) are also different and cases move more quickly through the system.

Juvenile Arrest, Release and Detention in Florida

When a juvenile is detained, authorities release the child to DJJ at the Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC). There a counselor will prepare a risk assessment report to whether a child can be released to a parent or guardian for non-secure detention. In some cases, if the child fails to follow the rules of non-secure detention, the child may be held in the detention center. This is known as secure detention.

Detention Hearing in Florida Juvenile Court

In the event that a juvenile is held overnight in secure detention, a hearing must be held within 24-hours. At this point, the judge will determine whether to release the child. A judge will also set conditions for the release.

If the judge rules against the child’s release, he or she is detained in the Juvenile Detention Center for no more than 21 days.

Florida Juvenile Trial

Within three weeks of the arrest, the juvenile will be arraigned. This means that the child will appear before the judge to be informed of the charges that the State is filing. Here the juvenile will be asked to enter a plea to those charges.

The juvenile will be assigned a trial date and the attorneys will then enter the discovery phase. This is the period in which witnesses are deposed. The State Attorney is required to provide the defense with any reports, documents, or recordings they possess.

During the time between the arraignment and the trial, the juvenile may choose to participate in a “Pretrial Diversion Program.” There are different options, but all programs require that the juvenile obey certain rules and complete certain sanctions. The sanction may involve any of the following:

  • Community service
  • Restitution
  • Counseling
  • A letter of apology
  • Drug treatment

The benefit to participating in these programs is that if the program is completed, the charges may be dropped. However, if the child fails to meet the requirements of the program, prosecution will continue.

Juvenile Negotiations and Trial

The juvenile can opt to change his or her plea of “Not Guilty” at any time. It is common for the State Attorney and the defense to discuss a resolution to the case to avoid going to trial.

If the State Attorney and the defense fail to reach an agreement, then the case will go to trial. There are no juries in Juvenile Court. The State is must prove to the Judge that the juvenile committed the crime.

If the Judge determines the juvenile is guilty, the DJJ is then responsible for preparing a report recommending sanctions for the juvenile.

Aggressive Florida Juvenile Defense Lawyers

If your child has been arrested and charged with a crime, an experienced and aggressive Florida Juvenile Defense Lawyer can help you negotiate with the State to ensure the best possible outcome for your child.

Contact the Law Offices of Edward G. Salantrie today for your free consultation.