Anyone under the 18 years of age who is charged with committing a crime in Florida is referred to the Department of Juvenile Justice. A referral is the juvenile justice equivalent to an arrest. After the juvenile is referred, the Department makes recommendations to the State Attorney and the Court regarding the next steps.
The punishment for crimes committed depends on the juvenile's age, seriousness of the crime, the law, and other factors. Juveniles who are considered a danger to the public safety may be detained in a short-term detention program. This means that the offender may be required to stay in a secure detention center before appearing before the court. If the judge determines that continued detention is necessary, the youth may be detained there for up to 21 days, or in rare cases, 30 days. Other juveniles may be released to their parents or guardians for home detention, where the youth must agree to follow provisions such as attending school and curfew.
Another option for youth charged with minor crimes is diversion, which involves programs that are alternatives to the juvenile justice system (e.g. Intensive Delinquency Diversion Services (IDDS) and the Boys and Girls Clubs.) In diversion, the youth may have to pay restitution, write a letter of apology, do community service, and/or other sanctions.
Another possible sanction for a juvenile offender is probation, where the youth must fulfill conditions such as community service, restitution and meeting regularly with a juvenile probation officer.
If the state determines that an offender needs long-term detention, she/he may be placed in non-residential or residential correctional program. In certain circumstances, the juvenile may also be tried as an adult. The consequences of being tried as an adult are extremely serious and can result in sentences such as life without parole.
If you are under the age of 18 and have been charged with a crime in Florida, you should consult the advice of an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can assess your particular situation, prepare legal defenses that can get your sentence reduced or dismissed, and help you achieve the best outcome possible. The attorneys at Anidjar & Levine are thoroughly knowledgeable about Florida juvenile justice law and are committed to providing you with the highest quality representation.
Call Anidjar & Levine P.A. at (800) 747-FREE or fill out and submit our online "Contact Us" form to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced South Florida juvenile crimes defense attorney.