Underage Truancy

In Florida, truancy, which is most commonly known as “skipping school,” is under the jurisdiction of the Truancy Court of the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Orange County. Under Section 1003.26 of the Florida State Statute, truancy is defined as a juvenile offense that can be charged to anyone under the age of 16 who fails to attend school on a regular basis.

The state understands that minors are still developing. Thus the laws juveniles are upheld to differ from that of adults. However, when a juvenile offense is committed, both the child and parent can face consequences.

Florida School Truancy Laws

The Florida Truancy laws state that any child between the ages of 6 and 16 must attend school. If a student’s 16th birthday happens during a school year, they are no longer required to attend but must make a formal filing that indicated their decision to end their academic enrollment.

Habitual absence from school is often considered an indicator of larger issues in a child’s life. It can also be a precursor to other and more serious criminal activity. Studies have shown that truants are more inclined to commit more serious crimes and are more likely to drink alcohol and do drugs.

How Many Absences Before a Truancy Charge in Florida?

A student becomes truant when they miss a certain number of days within a specified time and without a valid reason or excuse. Florida considers a “habitual truant” to be any student of elementary school age through age 16 who has:

  • Accumulated 15 or more unexcused absences in a three-month period;
  • Without the knowledge of their parent or guardian; and
  • Subjected to compulsory school attendance

Not only can a child be arrested but their parents as well. Florida has begun to conduct truancy sweeps, and many parents have been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and failing to comply with attendance laws. Both are misdemeanor offenses, but can still result in steep fines and even jail time.

To best navigate the laws surrounding compulsory school attendance, families should seek the advice of a juvenile lawyer. A seasoned Orlando juvenile defense lawyer will be familiar with the rules regarding middle and high school attendance in Orange County. Violation of these laws by parents is considered a second-degree misdemeanor. For the offending child, consequences can include:

  • Fines
  • Community service
  • Loss of driving privileges

Florida Truancy Penalties

If a child is picked up for habitual absences, he or she may be taken directly to a juvenile detention center. The juvenile court can issue several different types of punishments on minors and parents including:

  • More School: A truant student may be ordered to enroll in summer school or weekend classes to make up for the missed days.
  • Drug Screening: The court will require the teen to undergo random drug testing and possibly a drug education class if drug or alcohol abuse is an issue.
  • Behavioral Therapy: The child may be required to attend counseling sessions in an individual or group setting.
  • Juvenile Detention: There is a chance the court will order the teen to a detention center or group home, especially if this is not their first offense.
  • Probation: A court could place the teen on probation for a certain period of time where he or she would be required to check in with a probation officer.
  • Penalties for Parents: Parents or guardians could face fines, jail time, and be required to attend counseling if neglect played a role in the truancy.

Defending Truancy Among Minors in Orlando, Florida

The juvenile justice system is very different than that for adults. Separate courts, facilities, rules, procedures, and laws exist for the protection of the welfare of the child. The rules and systems can be confusing, and a strong juvenile truancy lawyer can guide you through the process.

An Orlando truancy lawyer with The Umansky Law Firm can provide the appropriate advice and counsel with regard to these serious matters, having been quoted by numerous national media outlets like The Wall Street Journal, NBC, CBS, FOX on various legal topics. Contact our juvenile defense lawyers today at 407-228-3838 or use our 24/7 online chat service to schedule a free consultation.