ABOUT JUVENILE CHARGES:
Unfortunately, juvenile criminal charges are taken very seriously by the Court, schools and future employers. Gone are the days when the court looked the other way for a child’s mischief. If your child is in a schoolyard fight, chances are he won’t get detention, he’ll get arrested. A juvenile charge, even a minor one, can cause various problems later in life. It’s important to take the charge seriously and to hire an experienced attorney who knows the system. According to national research, juvenile crime, including violent offenses, peaks between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., right after school lets out.
If your child is charged with a crime, and your child is found guilty, the Court has the right to impose sanctions similar to the adult court. A child could be sanctioned to fines, probation, restitution, community service, random drug testing, or even committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice for a period of time. Just as the Department of Corrections handles adults who are in prison or on probation, the Department of Juvenile Justice, handles children.
With the help of an attorney, and the involvement of the parents and family of the child, a resolution can often be worked out with the State Attorney and the court. The court will almost always ask that the child be enrolled full time in school and show proof of perfect attendance. It is important to make sure your child goes to school every day while the criminal charge is pending. The court will also ask that the child stay away from the friends he got into trouble with. Parental involvement in the negotiation process is very important.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN ADULT CRIME AND A JUVENILE CRIME?
Both the adult and juvenile systems run on the same laws. That is: a crime is a crime, regardless of how old a person is when it was committed. The difference is the sanctions imposed and the philosophy behind each system. The juvenile system focuses more on intervention, rehabilitation and prevention, while the focus of the adult system is punishment and prevention.
SHOULD I TALK TO THE POLICE?
NO WAY. Not without an attorney present. That is your right and your child’s right.
Be aware that police are very experienced at questioning people and that EVERYTHING you say will be held against you. DO NOT BE MISLED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS THAT SAY THEY WON’T ARREST YOU IF YOU TALK TO THEM. BEWARE OF LAW ENFORCMENT OFFICERS WHO THREATEN YOU OR TRY TO BEFRIEND YOU
IT’S SIMPLE, DON’T TALK TO THE POLICE WITHOUT TALKING TO A LAWYER FIRST.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER MY CHILD IS ARRESTED?
Your child will most likely go to the Juvenile Detention Center where they will be detained until they see a judge. This is called an arraignment. They are usually held first thing in the morning at 8AM, even on Saturday and Sunday.
For an easy to follow chart of the process go to: http://www.djj.state.fl.us/Parents/DJJProcess.html
JUVENILE DETENTION CENTERS:
Pinellas County Juvenile Detention Center
Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center
5255 140th Avenue North, Clearwater, FL 33760 (View Google Map)
PH: 727-538-7100 FAX: 727-538-7318
Pasco County Juvenile Detention Center:
Pasco Regional Juvenile Justice Detention Center
28534 State Road 52, San Antonio, FL 33576 (View Google Map)
PH: 352-588-5900 FAX: 352-588-5909
Hillsborough County Juvenile Detention Center:
Hillsborough Regional Juvenile Detention Center, West
3948 W. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Tampa, FL 33614 (View Google Map)
Special note to parents of juveniles arrested in Hernando County:
Because the jail in Hernando County does not have a section set up for juveniles, if your child is arrested and taken to jail in Hernando County, they are taken to the juvenile detention center in Ocala.
Marion County Juvenile Detention Center
3040 NW 10th Street, Ocala, FL 34475
Note that your child will be seen the following morning by a judge at the courthouse in Marion County, not Hernando County. The courthouse is in Ocala, 110 NW 1st Avenue, Ocala, FL 34475
As soon as your child is arrested CALL AN ATTORNEY.
Can I, as a parent, be liable for my child’s crime?
Yes and No. Like all things legal, this is a complicated question. Sometimes, you may be responsible for fees paid to the Department of Juvenile Justice for the cost of care of your child if your child is in custody, that is, in the Juvenile Detention Center or a residential treatment facility, also called a commitment program. You may also be responsible for other costs to the court or the Department of Juvenile Justice. If your child is required to pay restitution it will be his or her responsibility. In rare occasions, the court can require the parents to pay if the child does not. However, this is generally a civil, not criminal matter.
WHAT DO I DO NOW??
Hire an attorney that you feel comfortable with. Do it as soon as you think your child may be in trouble. Remember, your attorney works for you. You pay them. Your attorney should be able to answer all your questions in plain English.
I give free consultations, set an appointment with me and I’ll tell you what I think. If you like me you can hire me – if not, there’s no shortage of attorneys in Florida.