Has Your Child Been Charged With a Crime In Juvenile Court or “Adult” Court? We Can Help! Call Us (407) 408-0494
Have your child treated as a child by the justice system, not as a career criminal. Call us now. (407) 408- 0494. A general overview of the Juvenile Justice System is provided below. It is important that you contact an experienced attorney to represent your child in an early stage of the criminal proceeding.
The Juvenile Justice System usually handles cases of individuals under the age of 18 charged with a crime.
The central focus of the Juvenile Justice System is on rehabilitating delinquent juveniles rather than punishing them in an effort to steer them away from committing crimes as adults (although in some instances it may appear that the central focus is clearly on punishment). In some infrequent and more serious cases, juveniles will be “Direct Filed” to adult court.
After a juvenile has been arrested by law enforcement they will be taken to DJJ. A “risk assessment report” will be prepared to determine whether or not the child will be held for “Secure Detention“.
A detention hearing must be held within 24 hours of the arrest if the child is detained overnight. The child will face a judge, similar to adult court, and the judge will determine whether to release the juvenile and what the conditions of release will be. If the child is held for secure detention, they will remain in the juvenile detention center for a period not to exceed 21 days after the date of arrest. The State may object to release after the 21 day period in very limited circumstances, which will have the effect of extending detention to 30 days instead of 21.
If the child is eligible for release after the detention hearing, they will be released to their parent or guardian for “Non-secure Detention” while receiving supervision from a DJJ counselor. If the child violates any of the conditions of their non-secure detention, they may be brought back and held in the Juvenile Detention Center under secure detention.
The prosecutor will then look at the case and determine if there is enough evidence to proceed. If there is, they will file a Petition for Delinquency and the case will be set for arraignment (just like adult court) to be informed of the charges filed by the prosecutor and asked to enter a plea to those charges (Guilty, Not Guilty, or No Contest). The case will then be set for trial within a few weeks, therefore it is important that you have retained an attorney to be present at arraignment to protect your child’s rights and interests.
The prosecutor may offer a program called Pre-trial Diversion to first-time child offenders or those accused of lesser degree crimes. The program usually requires the child complete some community service, pay restitution (if applicable), undergo counseling, write a letter of apology, and other conditions. After successful completion of the program, the charges will be dropped by the prosecutor and the child will be free to go and will not be prosecuted. If the child doesn’t complete the program successfully, prosecution will proceed forward.
Juvenile Court is different from adult courts in that all trials are “bench trials” and there are no juries. The judge is the only trier of fact that will decide the case. The burden of the prosecution is still “beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt” that the child committed the crime with which he/she is being charged. After hearing all of the evidence, the judge will decide if the child is guilty or innocent.
If the child is found guilty, a “predisposition report” may be ordered by the judge. DJJ will conduct a background review and interview of the child inquiring about schooling, past history, living conditions, mental evaluation, etc to make a recommendation to the judge about what penalties would serve the child best to rehabilitate rather than punish. This report will be given to us as the defense attorneys, to the prosecutors, the judge, and to the child/parent. The predisposition report is not mandatory and can be waived, but it is usually a good idea to have one done.
A dispositional hearing is set once the child is found guilty subsequent to trial and a DJJ report is finished, or enters a plea of guilty or no contest at arraignment. This is basically the “sentencing phase” of the juvenile case. The Juvenile Court has jurisdiction over the child until his/her 19th birthday. Penalties may include the following:
- Probation: Similar to the conditions of pre-trial diversion (community service, restitution, letter of apology)
- Commitment: The Judge may sentence the juvenile to one of four levels of DJJ commitment:
- Low risk: generally 1 month – 3 months;
- Moderate risk: generally 4-6 months;
- High risk: generally 6-9 months; and
- Juvenile Prison: which could last from 18-36 months (or until his/her 19th birthday).
The Modarres Law Firm is experienced with the Juvenile Justice system. Having your son or daughter accused of a crime is a situation that no parent wants. Some juvenile charges may include possession of drugs or alcohol, DUI, robbery, and theft. We understand that children may make mistakes. We will help your family fight against possible juvenile detention, juvenile criminal records, and adult criminal charges.
Call Us Now: (407) 408- 0494
Copyright © 2013 The Modarres Law Firm – Orlando Florida Defense Lawyers – Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys – All rights reserved. Orlando Criminal Lawyer Disclaimer: The civil rights, criminal, criminal defense or other legal defense information presented at this site should not be considered formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship. Our criminal defense law firm serves the following communities, among others: Orlando, Pine Hills, Apopka, East Orlando, West Orlando, Conway, Bay Hill, Doctor Phillips, Belle Isle, Pine Castle, Oviedo, Ocoee, Winter Park, Winter Springs, Maitland, Eatonville, Winter Garden, Southeast Orlando, Southwest Orlando, Casselberry, Altamonte Springs, Maitland, Apopka, Sanford, Seminole County, Orange County, Heathrow, Lake Mary, Longwood, Midway, UCF, University Park, Thornton Park, Baldwin Park, Colonial Drive, Orange Avenue, Robinson Street, S Orange Avenue, Downtown Orlando, Alafaya Trail, University Blvd, Curry Ford, Lake Underhill, Goldenrod Road, Dean Road, Chickasaw Trail, Pershing, Semoran Blvd, Lake Margaret, Conway.
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