Part of being a parent is helping your kids see around corners in life to help them grow and learn. However, kids are bound to make mistakes which may be punishable by law. Although they are just kids, they aren’t exempt from the law and the punishment can have an impact on a kid’s future. If your child has committed a juvenile crime, hiring an experienced Juvenile Criminal Lawyer in Orlando is extremely important.
Often for juvenile crimes, there are less severe laws than a crime committed as an adult. Children typically don’t have the awareness or maturity as an adult and it is recognized by the court. However, the court will pursue its punishment by the nature of the crime and the defendant’s track record.
The process of filling and pursuing juvenile crime charges is different from the process of charging an adult. By understanding this, the first step in defending your child from the severity of the punishments can be made.
What is a Juvenile Crime?
In its simplest terms, a juvenile crime is a crime committed by someone who is beneath the age of 18. Any person falling into this category will have the Department of Juvenile Justice be held responsible for further actions.
Just because you are beneath the age of 18 this does not always mean you will be in the hands of juvenile justice. This is because in the state of Florida any children as young as 14 can be tried as an adult depending on the severity of the crime.
In most cases, the severity needed to be held as an adult often lies on such violent crimes such as murder and rape. It is possible for juveniles to be tried as adults for other crimes, but this is much rarer.
Special Considerations for Juvenile Crime Charges in Florida
In the state of Florida, prosecutors do not need to ask for permission of the judge to file charges of a minor in adult court. This action can be done so directly. The possibility for cases to go between Juvenile and Adult courts is viable.
For example, an offender can be detained as a juvenile, tried as an adult, but then returned to juvenile court for sentencing. The consequences for this can be more severe, particularly when it comes to the offender’s record. If found guilty in regular court (Adult Court) the verdict will permanently stay on your record whereas in Juvenile court the verdict eventually gets wiped away.
The most common crimes that get seen in the juvenile court are crimes such as assault, theft, trespassing, vandalism, etc. But children are applicable to the same laws that are held for adults whereas the only difference between the two are how charges are pursued and how the punishments are handled.
How Are Juvenile Crime Charges Processed in Florida?
When a child is arrested for the possibility of a committed crime, the child will first be taken to the Juvenile Assessment Court (JAC). It will be there where law officials will determine the appropriate path of action.
It is here when it will be determined whether to pursue Juvenile Justice. From there, if law enforcement officials require further detention, the parents will be notified and the child will be taken to the Juvenile Detention Center.
Children are seen differently in the eye of the law, yet they are still guaranteed certain protections such as a trial. But because they are a child, the state of Florida can not hold a child in detention until the trial is over.
The only way the court will hold a child in detention is if the presiding judge sees the child as a threat to themself or the community if released. This decision will be made in the child’s Detention Hearing which takes place within 24 hours of the arrest.
When a judge deems it fit to have a Juvenile Offender released, they will issue a “Juvenile Notice to Appear”. This can only happen if the parent or legal guardian makes a promise that they will have the child present for the court date assigned by the state.
Only on a rare occasion will the Judge not issue a “Notice to Appear” which means the Juvenile Offender will be taken back to custody.
However, in the State of Florida a child can not be held for more than 21 days without trial (sometimes maybe 30 for extenuating circumstances).
In the process of judicial proceedings, the judge might grant the accused a pre-trial diversion.
In most cases, these programs include community service, reparations, admissions of guilt, letters of apology, etc., all in under to help the child the severity of the consequences of their actions without the subjection to court and possible incarceration.
The benefit of having a pre-trial diversion is that if completed, it will erase the arrest record off the child’s record. This helps the child understand the mistake they made and saves the possibility of jeopardizing their future.
Because of this, it is best to pursue a pre-trial diversion even if the judge does not immediately grant one.
It is best to discuss this with an experienced criminal defense attorney as they can provide the possible scenarios and the most appropriate course of action.
If a pre-trial diversion is not provided or not processed, then it will go to trial.
Trial in juvenile court varies from regular court as in a juvenile court there is no jury. The decision made on whether the accused is found guilty and the sentencing lies in the hands of the judge.
Other than the previous circumstance, trial will be similar to a regular court trial. Attorneys on both sides will be allowed to call and cross-examine witnesses, and the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused did in fact commit the crime.
After all has been done, the judge will issue a verdict deciding if the accused is guilty or not, having a sentencing to follow if found guilty.
When it comes to sentencing, juvenile crimes are often handled differently. In most cases, it typically comes down to two possible scenarios.
● Incarceration at a Juvenile Detention Center
In most cases Probation will result as punishment for a juvenile crime. When in Probation, the child is set free but has restrictions to what they can and can not do. The most important thing a child can do during Probation is to stay away from criminal activity.
When given Probation, a Juvenile Probation Officer will be assigned to the child. It is their responsibility to keep in contact with the child and make sure they are complying with the terms of their assigned probation.
If a child is sentenced to a Juvenile Detention Center, The maximum amount of time a juvenile can spend in a Juvenile Detention Center in the state of Florida is 36 months. It is rare for a child to stay 36 months as these are held for the most serious offenders. It is typical that if sentenced to a Juvenile Detention Center that a child will spend around 30 days to Six months at the Detention Center.
After the Juvenile completes their sentence and is sent home, they are likely to enter a probation period where the judge will appropriately determine its duration.
Defending Against Juvenile Crimes Charges
In many ways, defending a Juvenile Crime Charges are handled the same way in both courts. The only difference would be that there is no jury and the action to obtain a pre-trial diversion.
In order to achieve the best possible outcome in trial, it is essential that you work with an experienced juvenile criminal lawyer. This is because with their experience, they will be able to design your defense and go over all your possible options that way you can make the best analyzed decision about your situation.
Expunging a Juvenile Record
The job of the Juvenile Judicial System is not to ruin a child’s life. Its role is to enforce a series of consequences that will correct their behavior and prevent the possibility of them committing a crime down the road.
As a result, juvenile convictions do not stay on your record forever.
Juvenile Records are automatically expunged between the ages of 24 through 26. By expunging a record, it is erased from public view. Records may only be viewed with a court order.
Once expunged, you can legally say that you have not committed a crime if questioned.
The exception to having an expungement is if you have committed a crime between the ages of 18 through 26.
It is also possible to have your Juvenile Record expunged before the age of 26 if you wish by making a petition to the court. The court will handle this on a case-by-case basis. If you have juvenile crimes on your record, get in touch with a juvenile crimes attorney today to see if you can expedite the expungement process.
Don’t Let Juvenile Crimes Derail Your Child’s Future
Juvenile crimes are still a serious matter. At the end of the day, a Juvenile crime is still a crime. However, if your child is facing juvenile crime charges in Orlando/Orange County, Florida or anywhere else in the state, you have options.
Get in touch with the experienced legal team at Smith & Eulo so that we can review your case and help you navigate the juvenile judicial system and keep juvenile crimes from dominating and ruining a child’s future.
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