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Has your child been charged with a juvenile crime?
Here at Fletcher and Brewer, PA we can help you understand the legal process from beginning to end.
Juvenile delinquency, also known as "juvenile offending", is participation in illegal behavior by minors (juveniles, i.e. individuals younger than the statutory age of majority). Most legal systems prescribe specific procedures for dealing with juveniles, such as juvenile detention centers, and courts.
Your child's future is important and a Florida juvenile offender record can have unfortunate consequences. It can affect future employment, education, scholarships, and many other opportunities. Mistakes happen and it's critical to address them as soon as possible, with the guidance of an attorney who is compassionate, honest, and who supports your family's best interests. Because not all Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys are equal in this regard, it is in your best interests to ask as many questions of your prospective attorney as possible to see if they are suited to represent your child.
There are a variety of ways in which an individual under the age of 18 can get detained and tried as a youthful offender. These offenses commonly include:
- Drug Possession
- Marijuana Offenses
- Possession of a Fake ID
- Possession of Alcohol by a Minor
- Sexual Offenses
- Theft Crimes
- Underage DUI
- Violent Crimes
Potential Penalties for a Youthful Offender in Florida
Instead of other criminal penalties authorized by law, a youthful offender may be faced with one or more of the following Court ordered penalties:
- Community Control
- Split Sentence (probation/community control and incarceration)
- Basic Training
However, the youthful offender will also be faced with mandatory participation in work assignments; careers, academic, counseling and other rehabilitative programs including:
- Reception and orientation
- Evaluation, needs assessment, and classification
- Educational programs
- Career and job training
- Life and socialization skills training (including anger/aggression control)
- Prerelease orientation and planning
- Transition services
The Department will also provide certain services for youthful offenders. This includes religious services and counseling, social services, substance abuse treatment and counseling, psychological and psychiatric services, library usage, healthcare, visiting and mail privileges, as well as recreational, athletic, and leisure time activities.
Purpose of the Florida Juvenile Justice System
According to Fla. Stat. § 985.02, the general purpose of the state's juvenile justice system is to provide general protection for children. This includes providing:
- Protection from abuse, neglect, and exploitation
- A permanent and stable home
- A safe and nurturing environment in an effort to preserve personal dignity and integrity
- Adequate nutrition, shelter, and clothing
- Effective treatment for physical, social, and emotional issues
- Equal opportunity and access to quality education as well as other community resources to develop individual abilities
- Access to preventive services
- When necessary, an independent and trained advocate or a skilled guardian if alternative placement is necessary
- Gender-specific programming to address needs of a specific gender group
This statute also provides for the creation of substance abuse programs. The Florida Legislature has found that it is in the state's best interests, after reviewing the impact of substance abuse on health, that children who are dependents of the state and in delinquency programs be provided with services to help them become independent of the state. In order for this to happen, the Legislature has given the state's dependency and delinquency programs the ability to identify and provide suitable intervention for children with substance abuse problems (including problems within the family).
In regards to juvenile detention, the Florida Legislature has found that there is a need to find secure placement for youth who have allegedly committed delinquent acts. This detention should only be used, however, when less restrictive placement alternatives are not available or appropriate prior to adjudication and disposition. The decision whether detention is even necessary should be based on an assessment of risk. These risk factors include clear evidence that a child may fail to appear, may inflict bodily harm on others, presents a history of committing serious property offenses prior to adjudication, disposition or placement; has acted in contempt of court; or requests protection from imminent bodily harm.
CONTACT AN ATTORNEY
If you have been arrested for any of the charges mentioned above, you may have defenses available to contest the charge or to minimize potential penalties. Contact FLETCHER AND BREWER, PA today for a free consultation.