The procedures for a juvenile case are much different than those involving an adult. Most people are unfamiliar with the juvenile justice system and how it operates. As a result, having a Delray Beach juvenile Lawyer to guide you through the system can be crucial to a positive outcome in your case.
Although the point of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate minors, rather than punish them, the sentences that juveniles may receive could be highly restrictive and punitive.
Our well-versed Attorneys at Leifert & Leifert understand how to move forward with these cases and will work towards helping you obtain the most favorable resolution. To learn more about your legal options, be sure to schedule a free consultation today.
What is the Arrest Process Like for Juveniles in Delray Beach?
When police arrest adults for crimes, they go directly to jail, where they typically can bond out and appear at a later hearing. Juveniles whom officers have arrested for crimes, however, go to the Juvenile Assessment Center. The youths will meet with Florida Department of Juvenile Justice counselors and complete a detention risk assessment. The results of this assessment determine whether the juveniles should be placed in secure detention.
If juveniles do not meet the criteria for secure detention in a juvenile center, they typically are released to their parents or guardians for non-secure detention. Those placed on non-secure detention are subject to various rules and daily supervision by a counselor. If they break these rules, then they may be placed in secure detention.
If juveniles spend the night in secure detention, they are entitled to a Court hearing within 24 hours. At this hearing, the Judge will determine whether the minor should be released or remain in detention for up to 20 days. The State’s Attorney then will review the case and file a petition outlining the charges against them if there is sufficient evidence to do so.
Facing Juvenile Court Charges
About three weeks following an arrest, juveniles must attend a Court hearing that is like an arraignment in adult court. At the Court hearing, they will hear the charges against them and enter a plea to the charges. At this stage of the proceedings, the youths charged as well as their families likely will find it extremely helpful for a juvenile Lawyer in Delray Beach to be present to explain the process and the charges that they are facing as well as seeking and advocating for the Juvenile with the Court and Prosecutor.
After the State provides the defense with any evidence that they plan to use at trial, and the defense does the same, juveniles must consider their available options for resolving the charges. In some cases, for instance, they might be eligible for a pretrial diversion program, which requires them to meet specific conditions, such as performing community service, counseling, or payment of restitution to any victims. However, in other cases, the juveniles may enter a plea agreement admitting their guilt and agreeing to a specific sentence.
If the accused person does not choose a pretrial diversion program or plea agreement, then they must oppose the charges by taking the case to trial. A Trial in Juvenile Court in front of a Judge only and not a Jury. All witnesses will be called to testify, your attorney will be able to cross-examine those witnesses and present evidence and testimony on your behalf. The goal of a Trial would be to be found Not Guilty. If, however, you are found guilty, a counselor from the Department of Juvenile Justice will review the case and recommend sanctions, the State prosecutor would argue for their perspective on the appropriate sentence, your attorney would have the same opportunity and then the Judge will sentence at the Court’s discretion if the juveniles are found guilty of the crime. For these reasons, most cases are resolved prior to a Trial.
What are the Penalties for a Juvenile Criminal Offense?
The sentences that juveniles can receive for committing crimes range widely from probation to prolonged periods of detention. Factors such as the severity of the crime, their past criminal history, and any mitigating circumstances all may impact the sentence that minors receive. A Delray Beach juvenile Lawyer could present evidence to minimize the effects of the punishment on the lives of juveniles and their families.
If detained, juveniles will face one of four different levels of detention, ranging from low-risk programs lasting 30 to 45 days to incarceration in juvenile prison for 18 to 36 months. The Department of Juvenile Justice counselor will recommend the appropriate level of restriction for juveniles in this situation.
Call a Delray Beach Juvenile Attorney for Assistance
A juvenile arrest can be devastating news for many families. Parents often want to safeguard the futures of their children by fighting back against the charges that they are facing. The presence of a Delray Beach juvenile Lawyer at Leifert & Leifert can help negotiate the least restrictive resolution possible to the charges.
Sentences that judges impose in juvenile court still can be harsh, and in extreme cases, juveniles may even face charges in adult court. Legal counsel can be instrumental in avoiding or minimizing the risk of severe sanctions in juvenile criminal cases.