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If your child or a child, you may know has been arrested and or had contact with law enforcement it often helps to know just a little bit about the next steps in procedure and what you can expect as you navigate the Juvenile Judicial system in Florida.
If the youth was arrested, they will be assessed by the Department of Juvenile Justice to determine if they will remain in custody or released to a parent. Each County varies in their booking process and the length of time needed to complete the booking process however, typically this process is completed within a few hours after arrest. The youth will be interviewed by the Department of Juvenile Justice and this interview is for the purposes of compiling a Detention Risk Assessment Instrument. This assessment has a list of criteria that determines whether the youth should be held further in secured detention or whether the youth may be released to a parent and or approved guardian with supervision. In certain cases, the youth may be released to a parent or guardian without the need for added supervision conditions. The Detention Risk Assessment Instrument uses a point system in its evaluation of the need for secured detention or supervised release. If the youth scores 13 pts or higher they will be held secure at the Juvenile Detention Center awaiting a Detention Hearing.
Within 24 hours of the youth being arrested, a detention hearing should be held. At this hearing, a presiding Judge, Assistant State Attorney, and attorney for the youth either privately retained or an Assistant Public Defender should be present. The presiding Judge will make a probable cause determination. This means the Judge will decide, based on the arrest affidavit and any additional sworn reports or sworn testimony, if probable cause exist for the arrest of the youth. After this determination is made, next will be determining the detention status of the youth. The presiding Judge will likely want to hear from the Department of Juvenile Justice and the findings in the Detention Risk Assessment Instrument. The Assistant State Attorney will likely be heard as to the youth’s detention status and any argument in agreeance or against the detention recommendation of the assessment instrument. The attorney for the youth will also be able to make argument and likely argue against the secured detention of the youth. During this presentation the youth’s parents or legal guardian may be called to give testimony before the court. This testimony usually covers where the youth will stay if released, who will assume the responsibility of supervising the youth, and whether the youth attends school and what grades and behavioral performance has the youth displayed recently.
Once the court has heard from all parties the court will decide on detention status. If the youth is ordered to be held secured, the youth will be taken back to the detention facility and may be held for up to 21 days (exceptions do exists). Usually there will be a detention status hearing set during the 21-day period. If the youth is released, an Arraignment date set and the next court date in the process.
At Arraignment, the State of Florida will decide if it will file a petition charging the youth with delinquent acts. If a petition is filed, the youth will be required to enter a plea. How the youth pleads will determine what happens at the next court date. If the youth pleads “not guilty” the case will be set for a pretrial conference. Pretrial conferences are usually monthly status hearings between the parties used to inform the court on the progress and likely outcome of the case. If the State does not file a petition and the State decides not to prosecute the juvenile the case will be nolle prosequi and thus the case will be disposed of without further prosecution and the youth is free to go home.
If a petition is filed alleging delinquent acts committed by the youth there are many avenues in which the case can be resolved. Depending on the facts and the youth’s prior criminal history if any, a warning could be issued, a diversion program may be offered to the youth. While the conditions of diversion vary, likely this will consist of the youth completing classes and coursework to have the case dismissed. Another outcome is that the case may be transferred to adult court. Should the facts warrant this transfer the case will likely be transferred to an assigned circuit court and the youth will be tried as an adult.
If the case remains in juvenile court, and the youth is not eligible for a warning or diversion the youth will likely have the option of pleading to the alleged delinquent acts or having an adjudicatory hearing. Juveniles have the same constitutional due process rights as adults, which include; the right to go to trial (adjudicatory hearing), the right to remain silent or testify on their own behalf at trial and the right to an appeal. If the youth enter a plea, unless waived, a Pre-Disposition report will be completed by the Department of Juvenile Justice. This report examines the youth’s life in many aspects such as family background, educational history, prior criminal history and makes a disposition recommendation based on the information obtained from the youth. At the disposition hearing, the Judge will either withhold adjudication or not find the youth delinquent. If this happens, typically some probation is imposed with a plan developed to keep the youth in school and out of the justice system. Alternatively, should the youth be adjudicated delinquent then it is highly probable the youth will be committed to a residential facility for the time ordered by the Judge at disposition.
For more information and or overview of your case please feel free to contact us 407-717-8557.