When a child under 18 gets into trouble with the law, they enter the juvenile justice system. The system is frightening and confusing, but the focus is supposed to be on helping the child deal with the issues that led to the arrest. Everyone, prosecutors and judges included, should hope the child will emerge from the system without a criminal record and be able to reach their full potential.
A Clermont juvenile defense lawyer could guide you and your child through the process, ensuring you know what to expect at every step. The process runs quickly once police detain a juvenile, so call a compassionate defense attorney as soon as you learn your child is in custody.
There are many differences between juvenile courts and criminal courts. Most of these differences are meant to prevent damage to the child’s reputation that might follow them into adulthood. A Clermont juvenile crime attorney could explain the process to the child and their family to ensure everyone is well-prepared and has reasonable expectations.
When police take a minor into custody, they must determine whether the child currently poses a danger to themselves or others. After the assessment, in some cases a parent could bring the child home. Otherwise, the child would go to a Department of Juvenile Justice facility (DJJ), where a probation officer might decide the child could go home. If the child must stay at the DJJ facility, Florida Statutes § 985.255 requires a court to hold a detention hearing within 24 hours. A judge might decide at that time that a parent could bring the child home.
Hearings and trials on alleged juvenile crimes usually happen in civil court rather than criminal court, while a judge conducts the proceeding and makes the decisions rather than a jury. A court must schedule a trial on a juvenile crime within 90 days of the arrest unless the juvenile waives a speedy trial.
Although the child is going through the juvenile justice process, parents often face legal consequences. A parent who seeks the best outcome for their child must strictly adhere to any order the juvenile court imposes.
Sometimes a court finds that parents did not take adequate steps to supervise their child. In such cases, it might order the parent to engage in community service. If the court orders a child into drug or alcohol rehabilitation or mental health treatment, it might order the parent to participate in these services as well.
Courts also can order parents to pay restitution for their children’s acts. A court will set the restitution amount according to what the parent can pay rather than a set fine or the actual cost of the child’s conduct. The court will supervise the case while the parent makes restitution payments. A juvenile defense attorney in Clermont could advise the court about the amount a parent could reasonably pay and ensure the parent recognizes the consequences of non-payment.
Sometimes a prosecutor might seek to try a child in adult court. Doing so is permissible if the child is at least 14. In other circumstances, Florida Statutes § 985.556 requires that the prosecutor try the child in adult criminal court.
A child who is 14 or older and has three prior adjudications of delinquency that would have been felonies (one of which involved a firearm or a violent act against a person) must face trial in adult court. In addition, a child 14 or older must be tried in adult court if they are facing a charge involving a violent crime against a person and have a prior adjudication for one of the following offenses:
If a child is tried and found guilty in adult court, they face sentencing to an adult prison. When trial in adult court is discretionary, a Clermont attorney could present all available evidence supporting keeping the matter in juvenile court.
If the police have detained your child, you need a competent guide through the juvenile justice system. Having experienced legal counsel is especially important if it is not the child’s first contact with the law.
A Clermont juvenile defense lawyer will diligently work toward the result that preserves your child’s future opportunities. Reach out to Umansky Law as soon as you can.
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