Everyone makes mistakes, especially children. They’re still young, growing, and impressionable—they often do not look far enough ahead to understand that their actions have severe consequences that can follow them for the rest of their lives.
As a parent of a juvenile who has committed a crime, it is extremely important to understand how the juvenile court system works and how to protect your children from conviction. At Stechschulte Nell Law, our attorneys understand how scary it is for a juvenile to be in trouble with the law and we are here to help you and your child through their charge, arrest, and the juvenile court system.
The Juvenile Justice System
When a juvenile is arrested for a crime, they enter the juvenile justice system. This system includes many entities, such as the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, The Florida Department of Children and Families, the state attorney’s office, the public defender’s office, and the juvenile division of the circuit court.
A juvenile in the state of Florida is defined as someone that is under 18 years of age.
The juvenile justice system, in addition to protecting the public from juvenile offenders, is also hoping to rehabilitate juvenile offenders. And for this reason, the juvenile justice system is much more flexible than the adult system when it comes to penalties and consequences.
Although there is some flexibility, it is important to remember that juvenile offenses are still serious and can negatively impact the juvenile’s future academic and career opportunities. If charges are filed and result in a conviction, there are real consequences such as probation, court-ordered supervision, and even juvenile detention.
Learn More> How Florida’s Juvenile Justice System Works
What Happens After a Juvenile is Arrested?
After a juvenile has been arrested for a crime, they are taken to a Juvenile Assessment Center. At the Juvenile Assessment Center, the juvenile will undergo an assessment, and the results and findings will then be reported to the State Attorney’s office by the Juvenile Probation Officer.
A juvenile—who is a minor—may have a parent present for the assessment, but it is very important to know that a law enforcement officer can question a juvenile without a parent present if a reasonable attempt was made to contact the parents. This information can be used against the juvenile.
When a juvenile is taken in, it is important to instruct the minor to not speak to the police. Just like an adult, a juvenile has a constitutional right to remain silent. A juvenile should only speak to law enforcement when a parent is present as well as his/her attorney.
Appropriate Consequences for Juveniles
A good defense attorney, especially one at Stechschulte Nell Law, will work together with the juvenile and family to create a plan and establish a case for the juvenile. Our attorneys will talk to the juvenile’s teachers, employers, or other adults in their lives, as well as gather attendance records and grades to prove there is a good reason for not sending the juvenile to a detention center.
With enough positive evidence, a juvenile can enter a diversion program, instead of a detention center.
The idea behind a diversion program is for these developing criminal behaviors in juveniles to be interrupted and prevent further crimes from occurring, all while creating a specific, individualized learning opportunity.
Some examples of diversion programs in Florida include:
- Mentoring programs
- Boys & Girls Clubs
- Alternative schools
- Community Arbitration
- Juvenile Alternative Services Program (JASP)
- Teen Court
- Drug Court
In addition to these diversion programs, the juvenile court may impose conditions or sanctions that relate to the juvenile’s crime. These may include:
- Community service
- Apology letter to the victim(s)
- Restitution (paying money to the victim(s))
- No victim contact order
- Mental health or drug counseling
- Forfeiting driver’s license/permit
The juvenile justice system hopes to keep juvenile court cases to a minimum by implementing diversion programs. Once the diversion program is completed, the case is dismissed. If the conviction is too dangerous or too serious for a diversion program, or if this is not the juvenile’s first conviction the case will move forward in court.
Don’t Go It Alone > What to Do When Your Child is Arrested
Protect Your Child with Stechschulte Nell Law
When it comes to juveniles and crime, they must get criminal defense representation. It is not enough to leave the fate of their charge to the juvenile justice system.
Our attorneys at Stechschulte Nell Law will make sure they are represented fairly and that their crime was seen as an honest mistake that they can learn from through a diversion program or sanction. Juvenile convictions, contrary to popular belief, can stay on their permanent record—and if they already are convicted, our attorneys can help through several different expungement opportunities.
If your child is arrested or facing juvenile charges, do not let the system handle their case without an attorney from Stechschulte Nell Law by your side. Call (813) 280-1244 today for a case review.