In Florida, when a person under the age of 18 is charged with a crime, the Juvenile Justice System is responsible for handling the case. The Juvenile Criminal Law system is focused on rehabilitating the individual, rather than punishing them. In serious cases, the State attorney’s office may use its discretion and charge a juvenile as an adult. This usually occurs in cases involving a repeat juvenile offender. Juvenile cases can have serious consequences for not just the child, but the parent as well. This makes it essential to contact a criminal attorney if you and your child is dealing with a juvenile offense.
How Juvenile Court Works
When a juvenile is taken into custody for a violation of the law, there are two options:
- The juvenile is released to a parent or guardian. The officer in that instance then sends the charges to the State Attorney’s office.
- The second option is that the juvenile be brought to the Juvenile Assessment Center, and the case is sent to the State Attorney’s Office that same day. The Juvenile Assessment Center is the facility for all arrested juveniles. Just as in an adult correction facility, the youths are fingerprinted, photographed, and booked. Each youth receives an assessment to determine their risk to the public.
Based on that assessment, the minor may be released to their parent or guardian on a non-secure basis. The minor suspect can also be held in secure detention, or placed on home detention. Hearings are held the very next day; within 24 hours, for juveniles held in detention or on home detention. A judge then makes a ruling to release the juvenile or keep them in the juvenile detention center. The juvenile cannot be held in detention for more than a period of 21 days. Below are the steps that follow.
- The State Attorney Investigation
- Pre-trial Diversion Programs
- Pre-trial Conference
- Non-Jury Trial
- Pre-Dispositional Reports
- Disposition Hearing
- Compliance Hearing
Common Defenses in Juvenile Cases
Law enforcement in many juvenile cases may have trouble gathering evidence; officers often do not follow the proper process, evidence may be illegally seized, and as a result a criminal defense attorney may attempt to have the charge dropped. In many situations, mistaken identity can be an issue. Peers frequently misidentify the accused, leading to the innocent being arrested.
Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney
Juveniles have a variety of diversionary programs available to them. Completing these programs may eventually lead to dismissal of the charges. Criminal attorney Kenneth Padowitz is a former prosecutor who has extensive experience defending the rights of those accused in juvenile court. If your child has been charged or believe they may be charged in the future, contact Kenneth Padowitz, P.A. for a free consultation to discuss this important matter. Our Broward criminal lawyer will provide you with the aggressive representation you need.