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Helping You and Your Child Navigate the Juvenile Justice System
We also provide representation to juveniles who have been charged with a crime. Don’t make the mistake of believing that your child does not need a lawyer. The choices you and your child make about their juvenile charges can follow them for the rest of their life. The juvenile justice system is complex and serious. We have in-depth knowledge of the juvenile justice system, having practiced extensively in this area. We also have a former juvenile probation officer on staff. We will put this experience and knowledge to work for you and your child.
Your child has been arrested for a criminal charge and right at this moment you are at a critical juncture about what to do. Your actions in handling this situation can and will affect the rest of your child’s life. As a parent you want to do the right thing in raising your child, protect & nurture them, teach them right from wrong; that is your job, not the police. Law enforcement officers can appear to be friendly to get what they want, but remember, their job is to collect evidence against your child so that they can be successfully prosecuted.
By law, in the State of Florida, police officers must ask permission from a parent or a guardian before they can question your child. If you let a police officer talk to your child, or search your child’s room, you should consider the following: Just because your son or daughter is a juvenile doesn’t always mean a case stays in juvenile court. Serious charges may land them in adult court with the very real possibility of incarceration and a adult criminal record which then cannot be sealed or expunged.
Police have a vast array of resources and prosecutors that they can call on for legal advice to make a case, you must at least consult with an attorney BEFORE you talk to your child at the police station or you allow them to speak to your child or search their room. Helping the police to make a case against your child is a decision you may regret.
A child in juvenile court can be appointed a public defender if the parent our guardian of the child is indigent. If not the judge will reset the arraignment hearing so that you may obtain your own privately hired attorney who practices in juvenile court. It is important that you select an attorney who knows the law of juvenile delinquency and is well versed in criminal practice. Unfortunately, many criminal defense attorneys do not take seriously the ramifications pleading to or adjudications of delinquency to minor or major crimes. A common misconception among general criminal attorneys is that “what happens in Juvenile court, stays in juvenile court”; nothing could be further from the truth. Pleading to the wrong crime may lead to a driver’s license suspension of the juvenile which can create havoc on the family now trying to transport there child to school, work and other activities. A suspension may also increase insurance rates dramatically. Possession of controlled substance (which includes Marijuana) and possession of alcohol by a minor are two types of crimes that will suspend a juveniles driver’s license whether or not they have been adjudicated delinquent.
The Florida juvenile justice system, is the responsibility of The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and the Family Circuit courts; unlike the adult criminal justice system, it is designed to rehabilitate juveniles to prevent them from recommitting offenses. This means that the procedures for juveniles significantly differ from adult court; they are much faster and are more informal. For instance, there is no right to a jury trial in Juvenile court. A Judge decides your guilt at a bench trial. Children charged with crimes in juvenile court generally enjoy confidential status in the entire process; the information surrounding their charges is kept confidential by the courts, Clerk of Courts and the DJJ. Punishments for juveniles for crimes that would normally garner an adult prison sentence can be resolved initially with juvenile probation. Again the seriousness of the offense is key. Extremely violent crimes could result in a high commitment level placement in the DJJ system, which is a soft way of saying juvenile prison or Direct File to adult court.
Traffic Crimes & Juveniles
The exception to juvenile court are traffic crimes such as suspended license, reckless driving, driving under the influence which are not handled in the juvenile system, they are handled in adult county court. Traffic crimes are problematic for juveniles because the information regarding there charges may be available to the public and the crime can appear on the DMV driving history as well as the Clerk of Courts information. Civil and criminal traffic entries can have a major impact on automobile insurance coverage. The courts and prosecutors may offer diversionary solution to have the charges dismissed, especially if its a first time traffic charge. It’s important to have the proper representation when a juvenile is charges with a traffic crime to explore all options in dealing with the charges.
Juvenile Detention (Incarceration of Juveniles)
The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) is responsible for processing juvenile delinquency cases. After an arrest for an offense, law enforcement determines whether the child will be taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) or released to the parents. If the child is brought to the assessment center they may also determine whether the child should be detained or released to their parents. This is based upon a points system that incorporates the crime charged with other factors such as prior criminal history. If released to the custody of parents the DJJ may impose restrictions on the juvenile. If the release conditions are violated, the juvenile may be held in a detention center.
If the juvenile is held in a detention center they must have a detention hearing within 24 hours in order to determine whether the child may be released and the conditions of the release. A judge may decide to require a juvenile to stay in a detention center for up to 21 days, but this time may be extended for good cause. Because the detention hearing occurs relatively quickly, the sooner an attorney can be retained the more likely it is that the child’s release maybe accomplished, even with serious charges. An attorney can represent a child at a detention hearing and start working immediately on possible defenses which can be presented to the State Attorneys Office to lessen the impact of prosecution.
Direct File; Prosecutors Choice; Juvenile or Adult Court
After the detention hearing the state prosecutor will determine what charges to formally file against the juvenile. In some cases a prosecutor may directly file a felony case against a juvenile who is 14 years or older in adult criminal court; however these cases are usually reserved to juveniles who have allegedly committed violent felonies and/or have had past serious juvenile adjudications (convictions).
Arraignment, Trial, and Sentencing
If diversionary programs are not utilized the juvenile will then be given the opportunity to plead to the charges or proceed to trial if a plea of not guilty is entered. If the juvenile is found to be guilty he or she will have a sentencing hearing to determine the appropriate sanctions. The sentencing is also very different from adult criminal court. The juvenile may be subject just probation or 4 levels of placement programs for juveniles adjudicated delinquent; these can range from the lowest level of community service and jail tours or daytime schools to placement in a secure detention center for several months at a time.
Contact an Experienced Juvenile Defense Attorney
The Law Offices of Darren D. Shull can help your child obtain their best legal defense and fight the charges against them. Hiring an experienced Criminal Attorney who also practices in juvenile court to protect your child’s future is worth the investment. Don’t hire a criminal attorney because he handled your friends DUI a few years ago, hire them because they know what their doing. To learn more schedule a consultation by calling an experienced Juvenile law criminal lawyer at 561-972-6444. Our offices serve Jupiter, Treasure Coast,Palm Beach Gardens, North Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, and all of Palm Beach County.