Winter Park Juvenile Defense Lawyer

It is a heartbreaking situation when your child gets into trouble with the law. You may need a compassionate defense attorney to help you resolve the matter in the way that preserves your child’s future opportunities.

The juvenile justice system works differently than the system for adults, which can be confusing for both the child and the parent. A Winter Park juvenile defense lawyer understands the process, knows its obstacles and pitfalls, and works tirelessly to ensure your child gets fair treatment and the best shot at entering adulthood with a clean record.

Understanding the Juvenile Justice System

Juveniles, meaning persons who have not reached their 18th birthday, usually appear in civil court to answer criminal charges. A Circuit Judge presides over the proceedings.

A judge hears the evidence and will determine if they are guilty and should face punishment—there is no right to a jury trial. If found guilty, a juvenile faces a sentence that might include paying restitution, probation, community service, and confinement to a residential facility or juvenile detention facility. If tried and convicted as an adult, a juvenile could even go to state prison.

Any of these consequences could be life-altering for the child and terrifying for the parent. A Winter Garden attorney could explain every step of the juvenile defense process and present all evidence supporting lenient treatment.

What Happens When a Juvenile Gets Arrested?

If an officer takes someone under 18 into custody, they bring them to a Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC). The staff at the JAC typically notify the juvenile’s parents or guardians. In many cases, the parent can bring their child home, but the officer issues a Notice to Appear, making the parent responsible for ensuring the child keeps their court date.

In other cases, the staff at the JAC or a Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) staff person might decide the juvenile should remain in detention pending a hearing. A parent should contact a Winter Park attorney immediately if their child is detained. Florida Statute § 985.255 says the child is entitled to a detention hearing within 24 hours, and an advocate representing the child could argue that they should await trial at home.

Whether the juvenile remains in detention or is released to their parents, they will have an interview with a Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO). The JPO will also review the juvenile’s prior record, school records, and other relevant information. The JPO makes a recommendation to the court about whether the juvenile should face a trial on the charge or a different resolution, such as a diversion program or community supervision, is more appropriate in their case.

When a Juvenile Offender Can Be Charged as an Adult

In some circumstances a prosecutor could choose to charge a child as an adult. In that case, they would appear in criminal court just as an adult would. In other circumstances, a child might be processed through the juvenile justice system initially but then the prosecutor decides to transfer the case to adult criminal court.

A juvenile charged with a crime that carries a life sentence or the death penalty will be charged in adult court. When a juvenile allegedly used a firearm in connection with a crime, the prosecutor can seek a transfer to adult court. Anytime a 16- or 17-year old is charged with a felony, a prosecutor could seek to move the case to adult court even if there was no weapon involved.

When a juvenile is tried and convicted as an adult, they face the same punishment as an adult offender would face. If sentenced to incarceration, they must serve their time in state prison. However, they also have a right to a jury trial in adult court. A Winter Park attorney could present credible evidence that could cast doubt in the jurors’ minds and persuade them to acquit the juvenile.

Select a Winter Park Juvenile Defense Attorney to Represent Your Child

When your child gets into trouble with the law, you want to do all you can to preserve their bright future. Engaging a skilled and experienced Winter Park juvenile defense lawyer is a critical step.

Resolving juvenile charges requires a seasoned and compassionate advocate. Call today to discuss your situation with The Umansky Law Firm.

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    Winter Park Juvenile Defense Lawyer