Florida Juvenile Cases
Adolescents are prone to make a variety of mistakes. Unfortunately, these mistakes may be illegal, leading to severe legal punishments. Regardless of age, a criminal record can negatively impact a minor’s future employment and educational opportunities.
Juvenile crimes are illegal activities that are committed by people who are below the legal age of 18. Criminal activity among adolescents is continually on the rise. To limit juvenile crime, law enforcement has become stricter on juvenile crime. Common Florida Juvenile Crimes include, but are not limited to:
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Underage drinking
- Traffic Violations (speeding and reckless driving)
- Drug crimes (possession, selling, or distribution of narcotics)
- Violent crimes (such as battery)
- Property crimes such as theft, vandalism
Juvenile Crime Consequences
When a parent is contacted by law enforcement because their child is charged with a juvenile crime, their whole world is turned upside down. Often, parents are unsure of what to do and may not always know how to act in their child’s best interest. Juveniles that are charged with crimes face legal consequences, which can include:
- Monetary fines
- Time in juvenile correctional facilities
- Community service
- Terms of probation
- Removal from their parent’s home
While legal consequences for adults are for punishment purposes, juvenile crime consequences are geared toward treating and rehabilitating minors.
Like adults, minors have individual rights and can protect and defend themselves against criminal charges. Juveniles have the right to remain silent when questioned by law enforcement, the right to cross-examine witnesses who are testifying against them and the right to an attorney.
If your child is being charged with a juvenile crime, the best thing you can do for them is retain an experienced criminal defense attorney. By retaining the services of a skilled Florida attorney, you are ensuring that your child will receive the legal representation, advice, and information they need to defend themselves against their charges.
FIRST APPEARANCE – WHAT TO EXPECT
The purpose of a first appearance hearing is for a judge to tell you why you were taken into custody. Typical reasons for arrest are new charges, violation of home detention or probation, failure to appear for court, or a pickup order from another county or state. The judge will look at the paperwork to see if it is proper. If you have new charges, he will look at the police report to see if probable cause exists. Probable cause means that if someone believes the facts in the police report, they would believe a crime has been committed. The judge does not decide whether you are guilty or innocent at First Appearance. An assistant public defender will be automatically appointed for this hearing only. They will give you any necessary advice for the first appearance proceeding.
WILL I BE RELEASED?
The answer depends on your score on the risk assessment instrument. The Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) prepares a scoresheet. If you score 12 points or more, DJJ usually recommends 21 days in detention. Listed below are typical outcomes.
- If you fail to appear in court in Bay County, you will be given a new court date. You may be released or held for 21 days in secure detention.
- You may receive 5 to 21 days in detention for a probation or home detention violation.
- If you receive new charges and score 12 or more points, you will probably receive 21 days of secure detention. If you score less than 12 points, you may receive 21 days of home detention. However, the judge has the right to add to your score based on your history and the seriousness of the charges.
- You may be held for up to 48 hours on a domestic violence charge, regardless of your score.
- If you are wanted in another county or state, you will probably be held until that state or county can pick you up, usually no more than 21 days without further hearing.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
If you have new charges in Bay County, you AND your parent or guardian will receive a summons to come to court for your arraignment within two to four weeks. The procedure may vary if your charges are from another county or state.
ADVICE TO PARENTS
Please answer all the judge’s questions honestly, but be careful about volunteering too much information. You could hurt your child’s case.
Juveniles, just like adults, have the right to remain silent because anything they say can be held against them. Do not talk to anyone about the facts of your case except your attorney.
Juveniles, just like adults, have the right to defend themselves against criminal charges.
- Right to an attorney
- Right to call witnesses
- Right to cross examine witnesses
- Right to file motions
- Right to trial
A juvenile trial is different than a trial for adults. A juvenile trial is a non-jury trial where only the judge determines if the state has proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt. An adult or juvenile being tried as an adult is entitled to a trial by jury.
Juveniles are any unmarried persons under the age of 18. A child under 18 is being treated as an adult, and adult sanctions may be imposed if the child is over 14. There are specific requirements for transferring a juvenile to adult court. Please contact our office.
Juveniles can face all the same offenses as adults.
Some offenses may apply only to juveniles, such as Possession of Alcohol or Tobacco by a Minor which are criminal offenses and the juvenile can face:
- A mandatory license suspension for a minimum of six months with a maximum of one year.
- Subsequent violations may result in a license suspension for up to two years.
Juvenile offenses are serious and may impact a child’s future. The Adult system is structured under the Criminal Punishment Code, where unfortunately, treatment is not the focus. The Adult system focuses on punishment.
However, the Florida Juvenile System is more focused on treatment and rehabilitation.
Treatment programs are classified as follows:
- Minimum risk non-residential
- Low risk residential
- Moderate risk residential
- High risk residential
Maximum risk residential