If your child has run into trouble with the police, you are probably desperate for advice and assistance. You hope to manage the situation in a way that will not affect your child for the rest of their life.
If circumstances allow, a Winter Garden juvenile defense lawyer could work to ensure your child emerges from the juvenile justice system without a permanent record. They could also ensure you understand what to expect and how to support your child through this ordeal. Contact a qualified defense attorney today to schedule a consultation to learn more.
The juvenile justice system is designed to protect the young person. However, a parent who does not know the rules or what to expect could find the process produces considerable fear and anxiety.
Although the system does not refer to juveniles as committing crimes, any act that could be a crime if an adult committed it could form the basis of a delinquency proceeding. If the police suspect a juvenile of committing a delinquent act, they cannot arrest them, but they can take a child into custody.
Once a juvenile is in custody, they must undergo an assessment. This assessment could occur at a Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC), or an on-call assessor might come to a police station. The evaluation determines whether the juvenile is a current risk to themselves or others and where they should be placed until their detention hearing.
Depending on the assessment results, a parent or guardian could bring the child home. In other cases, the assessor might recommend that the child be transferred to a Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) facility. There, a probation officer will interview the child and decide whether they can go home to a parent or guardian or remain in custody.
The child must have a detention hearing within 24 hours of being taken into custody. A supportive Winter Garden attorney could provide a well-thought and powerful defense for a juvenile facing this process. A judge will hear about the alleged and past acts of delinquency and review the parole officer’s report.
At the detention hearing, the prosecutor will also decide whether to allow the juvenile to participate in a diversion program. Diversion will enable them to complete supervised programming for truancy, mental health, substance misuse, or other issues rather than face formal charges. If the child completes the program, charges are dismissed.
If the juvenile has a history of delinquency, the offense was violent, or the prosecutor considers the child a threat to the community, they could file a Delinquency Petition, which is a formal charge. If they do so, the court will hold an arraignment hearing, and the juvenile must plead no contest, guilty, or not guilty.
Even when a prosecutor decides to move forward with a Delinquency Petition, the emphasis is still on trying to help the child rather than punishment. If the juvenile’s plea is no contest or guilty, the court’s sentence could involve community service, restitution, probation, or participation in rehabilitation services.
If the child pleads not guilty, a trial will be scheduled. In many cases, a Winter Garden attorney and the prosecutor could agree on a suitable defense disposition for the juvenile’s case before the trial.
Sometimes a court holds a parent responsible for a child’s delinquent conduct. Florida Statutes §985.513 allows a judge to order a parent to complete community service if the judge feels the parent did not do enough to prevent the juvenile’s delinquency.
If your child is in legal trouble, you want to do all you can to help them. The juvenile justice system is scary, but with skilled representation, your child can emerge without lasting damage to their future opportunities.
If the police have taken your child into custody, things will move fast. Call a Winter Garden juvenile defense lawyer immediately to give your child the benefit of capable legal counsel.
The Umansky Law Firm Criminal Defense & Injury Attorneys