Serving in St Johns County, Duval County and throughout Florida
Juvenile criminal defense attorneys have special skills and attributes. They are compassionate and understanding, while also being tough and realistic.
It takes a special kind of lawyer to do juvenile criminal defense work. This is not just because of the serious impact this case could have on the life of a minor, but also because the juvenile court system is very different from the regular court system.
If you or your loved one has been charged of a crime as a juvenile, you don’t need just any lawyer—you need someone with experience in the juvenile law system. You need FLA Legal Professionals, LLC.
How is the Juvenile System Different in Florida?
Once a juvenile comes into contact with law enforcement, they are either issued a civil citation for their illegal acts or they are taken into custody. Only adults are “arrested.” Juveniles are “taken into custody” under Florida law. After they are taken into custody, they are transported to their local Juvenile Assessment Center and their family is contacted.
From there, authorities will evaluate whether the juvenile should be held in detention or released to await their court date at home. Detention options include both secure and non-secure centers.
The next step is adjudication. However, the state attorney could determine that the charge will not be prosecuted. This happens most often in lesser offense charges or situations.
Adjudication could also be withheld. This places the juvenile on community supervision instead of placing him or her in a residential facility. The youth would then meet with a Juvenile Probation Officer to create a plan that includes goals and actions for improvement. These often involve both the juvenile and his or her family. Even if the adjudication is not withheld, community supervision is an alternative to a residential facility as well.
Residential facilities are designed to promote the child’s rehabilitation. Juveniles are sent here when the court determines that community safety may be at risk if they are not detained.
Alternative Juvenile Programs and Treatment
The juvenile could also be placed in the Diversion program, moved to adult court, or referred to the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative program. The Diversion program is designed to keep youths from entering the juvenile justice system through the legal process. This second-chance program helps at-risk juveniles by taking them out of the court system and just using peer review, counseling, and community service. Those chosen for this program have the opportunity to earn a complete dismissal of the charges against them. This program is usually only available to first time offenders or those who have been accused of committing non-violent crimes.
The Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative also offers a similar alternative that varies by county. Duval County is one such location. Your juvenile criminal defense attorney can tell you about specific alternative options that might also be available.
Juveniles can also be charged as adults in some situations. This will often depend on how serious the crime alleged is and the age of the child. Generally speaking, a transfer to adult court will not be beneficial for the vast majority of youths charged with crimes in Northern Florida.
Charges and Potential Punishments for Juveniles in Florida
Juveniles can be charged for a wide variety of crimes, just like adults. Youths can be charged for virtually anything that an adult can also be charged for. The requirements are also relatively the same, with a few alterations for the fact that some younger children do not understand that what they were doing at the time was wrong or fully understand the consequences of their actions.
Punishments under the Florida juvenile court system may include:
- Confinement in a juvenile detention center
- Jail time
- Loss of driving privileges
- House arrest
- Community service
- Fines or restitution payments
- Attendance at a substance abuse treatment facility (or plan)
If the juvenile is tried as an adult, punishments that are permitted under the law for adults are also permitted for juveniles.
The Juvenile’s Right to an Jacksonville Juvenile Criminal Lawyer
Just like an adult, a juvenile has a right to an attorney at every stage in the juvenile court proceeding. The court will provide an attorney if you are unable to afford one, but you must employ your own attorney if you are financially able to do so.
A juvenile criminal defense attorney can also be a valuable asset because he or she can help the juvenile get into a rehabilitation program or counseling program before the court assigns one. This can help you have a stronger defense in court.
An experienced Jacksonville Juvenile Criminal Lawyer will be able to use tactics like this to build a defense and help children get the assistance they need if they are troubled or need additional care. FLA Legal Professionals, LLC can help—call 904-399-2510 for more information or to set up a free confidential case evaluation.