Looking Out For A Child’s Future In The Florida Juvenile Court Process
Juvenile court programs were originally created to oversee cases that would otherwise be handled in criminal court, and to protect children from the harsh (and lifelong) consequences of criminal convictions. The main goal of a juvenile case is to address the conduct involved, help reform the individual, and keep them from appearing on the adult criminal docket later in life.
The criminal justice system recognizes that kids make mistakes, and if you are under 18, it can be unjust to pay for that mistake in your adult years. Florida has traditionally followed a “rehabilitative” model of justice when it comes to handling crimes committed by minors. Originally, juvenile court cases were lumped with “proceedings relating to children” through the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as HRS).
Beginning in the 1990s and into the 2000s, juvenile court matters were moved within Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice, or DJJ. The Department of Juvenile Justices focuses on all aspects of a child’s issues with the law – from prevention to rehabilitation. One thing that separates juvenile criminal cases from adult criminal cases is the amount of resources and outreach dedicated to helping minors turn their lives around and get on the right track.
Unfortunately, it is still possible for children to get “lost in the shuffle”, so to speak, and have a juvenile case impact their lives in a negative way. If they are not connected with appropriate resources, or their legal counsel is ineffective, their case can have a negative result. Sometimes, this can lead to even more problems in the future when they are adults.
Florida’s statutes on juvenile court cases address ways to balance the public safety of our communities with the need to rehabilitate and strengthen the lives of children who are charged with crimes. Pursuant to Florida Statutes Sec. 985.033, children charged with an offense and brought into juvenile delinquency court are entitled to legal counsel. If they or their parents cannot afford an attorney, they are entitled to have one appointed. The right to counsel in juvenile cases is especially important because a minor cannot be expected to understand the complex legal proceedings they are now involved in. At the same time, their parents may struggle with the legal complexities (or are not available in some situations.
Diversion Programs Available in Juvenile Delinquency Matters
Among the rehabilitative and preventative measures available to children are the many successful diversion programs for juveniles in Florida. These programs were intended to interrupt (or divert) developing criminal behavior patterns in juveniles. At the same time, they aim to prevent further interactions with the criminal justice system and help children meet their developmental goals. Those programs can include:
- Juvenile Alternative Services Program (JASP)
- Boys and Girls Clubs
- Mentoring programs
- Alternative schools
- Community service programs.
What to Do if Your Child is Charged with a Juvenile Offense
If your child is in trouble and faces a petition for delinquency in court, you and the child do have options available. The first and most important is the right to seek and obtain legal advice every step of the way – especially when being read charges and before accepting any type of plea offer.
With the right legal approach, the delinquency matter can be addressed in a way that serves everybody best, including:
- Accepting responsibility for what happened
- Preventing future behavior that can lead to further problems or criminal charges
- Keeping your child’s record clean so it does not affect them after they become adults.
The Orlando Criminal Defense Attorneys at Joshi Law Firm, PA Will Fight For Your Family’s Rights in Juvenile Court Matters
Our Orlando criminal lawyers at Joshi Law Firm handle many serious criminal matters, and take juvenile delinquency cases just as seriously as the rest. The impact on a child’s future can be tremendous if a case is handled well and they have skilled legal representation. On the other hand, poor advice can lead to long-term problems for juveniles in these cases. Call our office today at 407-661-1109 to discuss the facts and strategies available to you.