Juvenile / Youthful Offenders in Florida
If your child has been charged with a crime in Orange County, Florida, you may wonder whether to hire an attorney for your child. For most juvenile crimes, it is very beneficial to hire an attorney to represent your child’s best interests. Consequences for juvenile offenses can be severe, and can include a permanent criminal record, imprisonment or placement in a secure facility, or even affect your child’s future employment or educational opportunities. Your child may even be charged as an adult for certain crimes and depending on the child’s age. Common offenses juveniles commit are:
Your child’s defense attorney will attempt to receive the best possible outcome for your child’s situation, as there are juvenile diversion programs, teen court programs and other options that will seek to help your child. The state prosecutor will likely seek harsh punishments for your child that usually group troubled juveniles together, instead of beneficial programs designed to prevent future offenses.
Orlando Juvenile Defense Attorney
The attorneys at Hale, Hale & Jacobson can help your child avoid harsh punishments and severe repercussions for their juvenile offense in Orlando, Florida. They are experienced and knowledgeable with juvenile offenses in Florida, and will make every effort to avoid punishments and extreme sentencing for your child. Call the law offices of Hale & Hale at (407) 425-4640 for a consultation today.
Orlando Juvenile Offender Information Center
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Juvenile Offenses and Delinquency in Florida
Juvenile delinquency is defined as anyone under the age of 18 who has been charged with a criminal offense in Florida. After arrest for a criminal offense, a juvenile offender will be taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) where the alleged offense occurred, and will then be processed and evaluated.
Depending on your child’s offense, they will either be released to their home, placed on detention at their home, or placed in secure detention. If they are released, they will be given a notice to appear at a hearing within 24 hours of being taken to the JAC. All juvenile offenders will have a hearing in front of a judge within 24 hours of being taken to the JAC to determine if the child should be detained or released until trial or the prosecutor agrees to a juvenile diversion program.
Juvenile offenders do not have the same constitutional protections as adults, and will not be allowed a jury at their hearing, or a right to a speedy trial. They will only be allowed to present their case to the judge at a hearing and at trial.
If the prosecutor does not agree to a juvenile diversion program, your child’s case will go to trial within 90 days of their arrest, or from the date the petition, or formal charges of the criminal offense, was filed.
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Options to Avoid a Juvenile Conviction or Record in Florida
Juvenile Diversion Programs – These programs are sometimes available before trial to qualifying juveniles instead of being prosecuted through the Department of Juvenile Justice. Qualifying juvenile offenders have been recommended by a Juvenile Probation Officer and admittance into the program has been approved by the state prosecutor. The offender must agree to the program, waive rights to a speedy trial and agree to comply with all requirements of the diversion program. If all requirements are met, then the juvenile’s charges are dismissed. However, if the juvenile fails to follow the requirements of the program, they may be prosecuted in juvenile court.
Juvenile Civil Citation Program – This program is available for first time misdemeanor juvenile offenders instead of custody in the Department of Juvenile Justice. Florida Statutes § 985.12 is for juvenile offenders who have been charged with committing non-serious delinquent acts. The program requires juvenile offenders who are eligible for the program to complete up to 50 hours of community service, counseling, drug testing, and/or substance abuse treatment.
Seal or Expunge a Juvenile Record - Usually juvenile records are automatically expunged after the convicted offender has turned 24 years old. However, if an offender is over the 17 and commits a forcible felony, their juvenile record will be merged with their adult record. Also, if a juvenile offender is considered a Habitual Juvenile Offender, their juvenile record will be kept until they are 26 years old. Finally, if a juvenile offender is adjudged delinquent for any offense, their juvenile record will merge with their adult record, and neither will ever be able to be sealed or expunged.
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Punishments and Consequences of Juvenile Offenders
If your child is found guilty of a criminal offense, or violates the requirements of a juvenile diversion program, they could potentially face problems with future career or educational opportunities. Additionally, they may immediately be subjected to:
- Confinement in a Juvenile Detention Center,
- Prison sentences if charged as an adult,
- Confinement to house arrest,
- Placement on probation,
- Lost driving privileges or driver’s license,
- Community service,
- Random drug testing,
- Counseling, and/or
- Substance abuse programs.
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Florida’s Youthful Offender Statute
Florida provides for a program for young adults who are at least 18 years old, and were under the age of 21 when they committed a felony. Florida’s Youthful Offender Statute, codified in Florida Statutes § 958.04, allows qualifying offenders to be placed on supervised probation or a community control program for a maximum of six years instead of facing traditional criminal prosecution. The programs also allows mixed sentencing of imprisonment and probation.
The program is beneficial because a youthful offender’s probationary or mixed sentence cannot be longer than the punishment they would have received if sentenced under the normal criminal guidelines.
Youthful offenders are young adults who are at least 18 years old, transferred for prosecution to the criminal division of the circuit court, pled guilty or nolo contendere to a felony, and were under the age of 21 when the felony was committed. Offenders who committed life felonies or capital felonies are not eligible under this act.
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Resources in Orlando for Juvenile Offenders
Florida Department of Juvenile Justice – This governmental department’s mission is to reduce juvenile delinquency through prevention, intervention and treatment services.
Florida Department of Children and Families – DCF was created to improve the lives of individuals and families through an integrated approach that includes finding homes for children in foster care, and providing food stamps and temporary assistance for needy families.
Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida Teen Court – The Orange County and Osceola teen court is a voluntary diversion program from Juvenile Court or school suspension, and is designed to expedite the case of first time misdemeanor offenders. The court is located at:
Orange County Teen Court
2000 E. Michigan Street
Orlando, Florida 32806
Phone: (407) 836-9517
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Hale, Hale & Jacobson | Orlando Juvenile Crime Lawyer
Contact the law offices of Hale, Hale & Jacobson today for a consultation about your juvenile’s crime in Orlando, Florida. It is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help your child find possible defenses or mitigating factors, or other ways to avoid a permanent criminal record. Contact Hale, Hale & Jacobson at (407) 425-4640 for a consultation about your child’s juvenile offense in Orange County and surrounding areas, including Seminole County, Osceola County, Orlando, Winter Park and Kissimmee.