Juvenile Crimes Florida
Private Counsel LLC lawyers practice juvenile criminal defense, and have experience representing juvenile clients and their parents/guardians. When a person under the age of 18 is accused of a crime, he or she will usually be charged and tried through the juvenile criminal justice system which is different than for adults. The child is usually brought by the police to the Juvenile Detention Center Orlando for holding.
Sometimes a juvenile can commit a crime and be charged as an adult. The State attorney calls that a “direct file.” That means they file the charges directly in adult court. This normally occurs after the State’s attorney gets the case and realizes the facts are very serious and the case merits the more serious punishment that can be imposed in adult court to apply to the juvenile defendant.
This normally occurs after the State’s attorney gets the case and realizes the facts are very serious and the case merits the more serious punishment that can be imposed in adult court to apply to the juvenile defendant. If your son or daughter is facing juvenile charges, please contact us at 407-965-1190 for a FREE consultation.
BELOW IS SOME INFORMATION YOU MIGHT FIND HELPFUL IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH A JUVENILE CRIME:
Who is considered a “juvenile?” Also called “Child,” a juvenile is any unmarried person under the age of 18 alleged to be dependent, in need of services, or from a family in need of services, or any married or unmarried person who is charged with a violation of law occurring prior to the time that person reached the age of eighteen years.
STEPS IN A JUVENILE CRIMINAL CASE:
Arrest (“Taken into Custody”)
When a juvenile is arrested (also called “taken into custody”), he or she is taken to a local Juvenile Assessment Center (“JAC”) for assessment, where it will be determined whether he or she should be held in secure detention (similar to jail for adults) or released to the parent/guardian (“home detention”) while the charges are pending. Whether the juvenile will be held in secured detention or released to the custody of their parent or guardian will depend on several factors, including the seriousness of the criminal charges and whether it is determined the juvenile poses a risk to the community. If held in secured detention, the juvenile can be held up to 21 days
The juvenile can also, in some cases, be released to the parent or guardian with a referral to a “diversion program.”
At this step the juvenile’s case will be assigned to a Juvenile Probation Officer, who receives a copy of the charge from law enforcement or the court and will contact the juvenile and his/her family to gather information about the juvenile and family.
The Juvenile Probation Officer will make an assessment and develop a plan to address the offense. The nature of the offense, the risk the youth presents to the community, damages incurred to the victim by youth’s actions and other needs the youth may have are all considered.
The Juvenile Probation Officer then makes a recommendation to the State Attorney’s Office, taking into account the protection of the community, holding the juvenile accountable to the victim and addressing the juvenile’s needs (and preventing future instances of delinquent behavior).
Sometimes the juvenile may be referred to a diversion program. If the juvenile completes the program, no further court action will be pursued by the state attorney. However, if the juvenile fails to complete the program, the state attorney will file a petition with the juvenile division of the circuit court, formally charging the youth with the delinquent offense. It is a good idea to get an attorney fast so we can try and avoid filing of charges and get your son or daughter into a court diversion type program.
Teen Court is another program (similar to Pre-trial diversion) that allows first-time juvenile defendants to come before their peers to be judged instead of going to juvenile court. To get into teen court, the State’s attorney’s office must approve the case. Call Attorney Douctre to see if your son or daughter is eligible and if he can get him/her in. Do not wait until the last minute. Once decisions are made on the case, it is very difficult to change the State Attorney’s mind. Teen Court puts the juvenile on trial to determine a sentence (the juvenile must admit guilt to the charge). All the participants except the judge are teenagers. The Jury will decide a sentence which may include such penalties as community service, restitution (payment to the victim for his/her losses), an apology, a reading assignment, an essay, a tour of the county jail, and serving as a Teen Court juror in future case. If the juvenile successfully completes Teen Court, the juvenile criminal charges will be dropped. If the juvenile does not complete Teen Court, the case will be sent back to the juvenile criminal court for prosecution.
The State Attorney’s Office (local prosecutor) may file charges (called a “Petition for Delinquency”) in the juvenile division of the circuit court, charging the youth with the criminal (“delinquent”) offense.
The juvenile, normally through his or her attorney, will have the option of reaching a plea agreement with the State (where no trial is held), or having the case proceed to trial. If the juvenile’s case goes to trial (called an “adjudicatory hearing”), the judge will listen to the evidence and decide if the juvenile is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Note that juveniles are not entitled to a trial by jury–only trial by a judge. If the judge finds the juvenile guilty of the charges, she/he can either “adjudicate” the juvenile delinquent, or “withhold adjudication.”
Once a juvenile has entered a plea to criminal charges or been found guilty, the case will proceed to “disposition” or a “dispositional hearing.” This is the sentencing phase. The judge will impose a sentence that is appropriate to the charges and the juvenile’s age and situation. The judge has jurisdiction over the juvenile until his or her 19th birthday. The judge has 2 choices: probation or commitment to a DJJ (Department of Juvenile Justice) correctional/residential center.
Similar to adult probation, the juvenile will be placed under the supervision of a probation officer. The juvenile is placed on probation for either a fixed period of time (such as for one year for a first degree misdemeanor) or until the juvenile’s 19th birthday (21 or 22 in some instances). The court can order the probation terminated, usually after completion of all terms and conditions ordered by the court and upon recommendation by the probation officer.
Correctional centers are considered a “rehabilitation program” for juvenile delinquents, with 4 possible ranges of restrictiveness:
- Low-risk Residential — Juveniles at this level are assessed as low risks to public safety, yet require 24-hour supervision. Most placements result from first and second-degree misdemeanors to third degree felonies.
- Moderate-risk Residential — Juveniles at this level have been assessed as moderate risks to public safety and require 24-hour supervision.
- High-risk Residential — Juveniles classified for placement in this restrictiveness level have been assessed as high risks to public safety and require close supervision in a structured residential setting that provides 24-hour secure custody and care.
- Maximum-risk Residential — Juveniles classified for placement in this restrictiveness level have been assessed as serious risks to public safety and require 24-hour confinement in a maximum-security setting. They generally have a history of numerous offenses and/or violent and other serious felony offenses. This includes a minimum stay of 18 months.