When a juvenile is charged with a crime, the allegations can be scary because these charges are meant to be taken seriously by both the juveniles and their parents. The consequences of a juvenile criminal conviction can be life-altering. Colleges, employers, and other prying eyes will use juvenile offense convictions as a reason to deny acceptance into their school or deny employment. For this reason, it is important to keep a juvenile’s record as clean as possible. To do so, seek the legal advice of a reputable and experienced Marco Island juvenile criminal defense lawyer.
The Law Office of Donald P. Day provides juvenile criminal defense for citizens of Marco Island, Naples, Fort Myers, and Florida at large. Our criminal defense law firm has more than 45 years of legal experience in successfully representing some of the biggest criminal defense cases in Florida. Our legal team is competent and knowledgeable about Florida law and juvenile cases. We have successfully represented many minor clients charged with crimes and delinquent acts and helped them and their families in turning their lives around. We can do the same for you.
In Florida, a juvenile is also called a child or a youth, and all of these terms refer to any individual under 18 years of age who is alleged to have committed a crime in violation of Florida law. Juveniles over the age of 14 who are charged with certain crimes can be charged as an adult. Adult charges incur more severe consequences and punishment. Avoiding this is important, and in some cases, a good defense attorney is all you need to keep your juvenile from being charged as an adult. In other cases, it’s unavoidable, but hiring a proven juvenile criminal lawyer can potentially help minimize sentencing or facilitate a fair plea deal.
When a juvenile is taken into custody, if they are a first-time offender and the charges are for a misdemeanor offense such as a DUI, they will receive a civil citation and be released either to their parents, a probation officer, an alternative diversion program, or taken for further evaluation at a Juvenile Assessment Center.
A Detention Risk Assessment Instrument (DRAI) will be conducted on the youth, and a Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) will collect information on the child, their family, the violation, and any other relevant details of the case. The JPO will decide whether the youth needs to be held in a secure detention setting, a non-secure setting, or a home detention situation until their next hearing. The recommendations will be shared with the State Attorney. If the decision is to hold the youth in detention, a detention hearing will be held within 24 hours. Final decisions will be made for the youth to either attend a diversion program, be held in one of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ)’s 21 juvenile detention centers across Florida, or be tried as an adult. Juveniles are typically only held for 21 days in the juvenile detention center unless a judge decides otherwise.
The next hearing will be an arraignment hearing. This is the youth’s opportunity to respond to the charges. Depending on the outcome of the hearing, the judge may schedule an adjudicatory hearing. In these hearings, the state has the burden of proof to convict the juvenile. This is like a trial, but there is no jury, just a judge. Any stage of this process would be a good time to consult with an experienced juvenile attorney to minimize the severity of the case, the charges, the conviction, and/or the consequences.
If the court determines that the youth is guilty of the violation, a disposition hearing will be held to decide on final sanctions for the defendant. Potential sentencing can include
Criminal defense attorneys in Florida charge from $100 per hour to as much as $400 per hour, depending on their experience and the charges they are defending. For example, for simple felony charges, a criminal defense lawyer would likely charge from $3,500 up to as much as $10,000. For a charge such as second or first-degree murder, lawyer fees could be anywhere from $35,000 to $100,000.
It is possible for a juvenile to get a felony expunged. The juvenile must petition the court to expunge or seal their record, but they can only request this for a single case, and they must qualify for expungement in accordance with Florida law. If granted, a juvenile record expungement will no longer appear on the individual’s background check thereafter.
Florida law limits juvenile detention to 21 days. However, under certain circumstances, that can be extended to 30 days or longer in 21-day increments. Because detention is often required if the court feels that the child is a threat to themselves or others, juveniles are typically sent home to serve probation, depending on their criminal history.
Yes, a juvenile can be charged with a felony in Florida. In fact, children ages 14 and over can even be tried as an adult if they commit one of the 21 felonies that are eligible for adult charges, such as aggravated assault, attempted murder, and murder. An experienced attorney can help a juvenile reduce their charges and avoid being tried as an adult.
If your child is in trouble with the DJJ and facing charges for a juvenile violation or is in danger of being charged as an adult, don’t wait to call the Law Office of Donald P. Day. Don’t make the mistake of taking this matter lightly. Contact us today and speak with one of our knowledgeable legal team members. Learn how our top criminal defense attorneys can potentially alleviate the outcome of this situation for your child and your family.