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Florida’s Juvenile Justice System Explained

One of a parent’s worst nightmares is when the police call to tell you they have your child in custody. When juveniles get into legal trouble, their entire future is at stake, and kids do a lot of stupid things. Even small problems loom larger for juveniles because of the place they are in life. Legal troubles can affect so much of who they become, where they get into school, whether they can follow their dreams, etc. It is important to retain a lawyer who has a lot of experience in the juvenile delinquency courts. Attorney Malcolm Anthony has practiced extensively in the juvenile delinquency courts for over 40 years.

Rehabilitation: Florida’s juvenile justice system prioritizes rehabilitation over punishment in an attempt to create a supportive framework to help young people who face legal challenges. Parents need to make an aggressive effort to learn their child’s rights to advocate for their children effectively.

Key Stages of the Juvenile Process

The process managed by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) includes several important stages:

Intake (FL Statute 985.14): Decisions are made to dismiss, handle informally, or escalate cases based on factors like the offense severity, the minor’s age, and past behavior.

Diversion Programs: Minors may enter programs that include community service and counseling, often resulting in charge dismissal upon successful completion.

Detention Temporary detention in a juvenile facility might be used based on the case’s specifics, focusing on keeping minors in a home setting as much as possible.

Adjudication: A judge (not a jury) examines the case facts and decides the outcome.

Disposition: Sentencing options like probation or community service are tailored to the minor’s rehabilitation needs.

Post-Disposition: Continued monitoring ensures compliance with court orders, aiding in the minor’s successful community reintegration.

Emphasizing Rehabilitation and Family Involvement

The system’s rehabilitation focus acknowledges the potential for positive change in youth. Key components include:

Educational Support: Ensuring minors continue their education and develop essential career skills.

Behavioral Health Services: Addressing mental health or substance issues through comprehensive treatment programs.

Family Engagement: Encouraging family participation, which is vital for effective rehabilitation.

Restorative Justice Practices: Facilitating understanding and reconciliation between juveniles, victims, and the community.

Parents Take Action

Florida’s approach to juvenile justice may provide a framework for redirecting young lives towards positive outcomes, but no parent should simply leave it in the hands of the government. For parents, actively participating in the legal process is crucial to protect their child’s rights. 

Start by securing legal representation experienced in juvenile law as soon as possible, as this ensures that your child’s legal rights are upheld from the outset. Familiarize yourself with relevant processes to better understand the potential legal pathways your child might face. It’s important to communicate openly with your child’s attorney, providing all necessary information that could aid in their defense and discussing any concerns about the treatment of your child within the system. 

Encourage your child to express themselves honestly to their attorney, who is there to advocate on their behalf. Additionally, ensure your child understands they have the right to remain silent and that they do not have to talk to law enforcement without an attorney present. Engaging in these steps will significantly contribute to protecting your child’s legal rights and supporting their best possible outcome within the juvenile justice system.For personalized guidance and support, contact Malcolm Anthony, P.A. Our team is dedicated to helping families through these challenging times, ensuring that your child’s future remains bright.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MALCOLM ANTHONY

Jacksonville, FL Criminal Defense Attorney​​​​​​If you’ve been charged with a crime, you need the determination and experience of criminal defense attorney Malcolm Anthony on your side. As a Jacksonville area criminal defense attorney, I am a seasoned lawyer with a high success rate in criminal…

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