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Treasure & Space Coast Juvenile Offense Attorney

Children under 18 years of age who are alleged to have committed criminal offenses in Florida are charged and prosecuted pursuant to Chapter 985 of the Florida Statutes. While the types of actions that are prohibited by law are the same for both juveniles and adults, the procedure by which juveniles are arrested and charged with crimes is completely different than that of the adult system.

Arrested juveniles are taken to “juvenile detention centers” as opposed to county jails. These detention centers are run by officers of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Upon arrival at a detention facility, DJJ officials complete what is known as a “risk assessment instrument.” The “risk assessment instrument” is used to determine if the child is allowed to be released home while awaiting further prosecution. Should the child’s score on the “risk assessment instrument” qualify them for “secure detention,” the child may be held at a detention facility for a period of time not to exceed 21 days. Within that 21 days, a prosecutor must decide how they wish to pursue charges.

Regardless of whether or not a child qualifies for “secure detention” the prosecutor must make a determination as to which crimes, if any, the child will be formally charged with. If a charging document, or “petition,” is filed, the child will be set for an arraignment. At arraignment, the child will be called upon to decide whether or not they would like to proceed to a trial. Juveniles are not permitted the benefit of a jury trial. Trials on juvenile offenses are presided over by a judge alone. Punishments for juvenile offenses range in seriousness from diversion and probation, to commitment in a juvenile correctional facility.

The procedures described above outline only some of the differences between adult offenses and juvenile offenses. Not all criminal defense attorneys are trained in these differences. Jesse H. Larsen has handled hundreds of juvenile delinquency matters in his time as an attorney. If someone you care for needs help with a juvenile offense, contact Mr. Larsen for a consultation.