Florida’s Juvenile Court System

Juvenile Defense Attorney

A report by the National Juvenile Defender Center found that many young people in the Florida juvenile justice system don’t receive the legal representation they need and deserve. They enter into plea bargains that have serious consequences, preventing them from serving in the military, from getting hired, or qualifying for financial aid.

While the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice says it wants to “turn around the lives of troubled youth,” the reality of the Florida juvenile justice system is that sometimes it does more harm than good.

The Florida Juvenile Justice Process

When someone under 18 is arrested for a crime they go through a number of stages with the juvenile justice system. These stages are different than those for adults.

  • Detention : When a young person is picked up on suspicion of committing a crime (or for truancy or staying out past curfew), they will be taken to a short-term juvenile assessment detention facility or police detention facility. Parents will be called at this time. This may be the best time to contact a lawyer.
  • Arraignment : At this stage, a decision will be made about whether to charge the young person with a crime as a juvenile or an adult, and whether there case will go to an adjudicatory hearing or to a diversion program such as Orange County Teen Court program. A criminal lawyer can be crucial at this stage. The attorney can contact the prosecutor to potentially influence what charges are filed, if any.

Book Cover

Author of
“Juvenile Criminal Defense Strategies”

  • Adjudicatory Hearing : A young person will have a hearing before a juvenile judge at an adjudicatory hearing. The adjudicatory hearing is like a trial for adults, except a child is tried by a judge. The judge can sentence the young person to time in a juvenile detention facility or to various diversion programs, counseling or therapy programs (such as Associated Marine Institutes, Youth Advocacy Programs (YAP), or the PACE Center for Girls). In many cases the judge can commit the juvenile or kid to protection by the determination of juvenile justice.
  • Sentencing: As stated before, the judge has many sentencing options and in many instances will side with the pre-disposition where the defendant makes sentencing recommendations. A juvenile criminal lawyer may get involved to add or modify the report to help your child avoid the threat of serious sanctions.
  • Criminal Court : If the juvenile is going to be tried as an adult – if they committed a felony or violent crime – the juvenile’s case could be heard in adult criminal court. All the same rules of the criminal court apply. While the juvenile system is specifically interested in rehabilitation, that is not the case with the adult criminal system. Our goal as your defense attorney is always to avoid having a juvenile tried as an adult.
  • Probation : Even after a young person completes their sentence or diversion program, they may be on probation for months or years. During the time they are on probation, they will need to check in with their probation officer regularly. Failing to do so could result in going back to a juvenile facility.

Contact The Umansky Law Firm Today

If your child is a juvenile charged with any kind of crime, contact our  Orlando juvenile attorneys day or night. Your consultation is free. We accept MasterCard, Visa, and American Express. We are also able to set up a reasonable payment plan.