Winston Law PA

Juvenile Crimes

In the State of Florida, juveniles are subject to the same laws as adults and can be arrested for violations of those laws.  When a child is arrested for violating the law the case goes to Juvenile Delinquency Court.  Juvenile delinquency cases are felonies and misdemeanors filed against children.  Juveniles have the same rights in the State of Florida as adults with the exception of the right to a jury trial.  Because the goal of juvenile delinquency law is deterrence rather than punishment, the consequences of juvenile crime do not include traditional prison time but instead probation and/or time in a juvenile program.

Juvenile probation can last until the child is 19 years old.  Depending on the age at which a child was sentenced to probation, the child could remain on probation for many years.  In addition to traditional probation conditions such as classes, counseling, drug testing, community service, and apology letters, juvenile’s on probation must attend school, stay out of trouble while in school (no referrals) and be respectful of their parents and guardians.  Failing to do these things can lead to a violation of probation.

Juvenile programs differ by risk level and range from low to high risk programs.  They are run by the Department of Juvenile Justice and are located throughout the State.  Low risk programs may require a child to attend a special school but remain in their homes.  Moderate programs require children to live within the program and last from 6-8 months or longer, depending on a child’s behavior.  High risk programs can last from 8-12 months or longer, depending on a child’s behavior.  After being released from a juvenile program the child is often placed on probation also known as after care.

Direct File.  In Florida, prosecutors are given the discretion to decide if a child’s charges will be filed in juvenile court or be “direct filed” or filed directly in adult court.  If a child’s charges are filed in adult court, they are treated as adult within the criminal justice system.  The child is entitled to a jury trial and faces adult punishment rather than juvenile sanctions.  Many factors go into the State’s decision to direct file a child’s case.  Some include; the age of the child, the severity of the crime, and the child’s prior record.

If your child is charged as a juvenile or has been direct filed to adult court, it is important to contact a knowledgeable and skilled criminal defense attorney who understands the juvenile justice system.  Winston Law, P.A. can defend your child by speaking to prosecutors before your case is filed and providing information that may result in the charges being dismissed or lesser charges being filed.  If the case has already been filed, Winston Law, P.A. can explore and develop possible defenses.  If it is in your child’s best interests to enter into a plea agreement, Winston Law, P.A. can develop alternative sentencing plans to help minimize your child’s risk of going to a juvenile program and aid them in getting counseling if needed.

If you or a loved one have been arrested or charged with a juvenile crime or has been direct filed to adult court, contact Winston Law, P.A. at (561) 670-9375 or [email protected] for your initial consultation.


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