The juvenile justice system, statutes relevant to children’s issues, and the budgetary process, use unique terminology not associated with the adult criminal justice system. This glossary is designed to provide you with a better understanding of the Juvenile Justice System, and is not intended to be a substitute for the legal definition listed in CH 985.03, F.S. To discuss the specifics of your case or begin building a defense, consult with a juvenile defense attorney in Ft. Lauderdale today.

Adjudicate To hear and decide a case; to judge. An adjudicated delinquent is a youth who has been found guilty by a judge of committing a delinquent act. The court can commit an adjudicated juvenile or place the juvenile on community control.
Hearing for the Court to determine whether the facts support the allegation(s) stated in the Petition for Delinquency. The standard of proof is the same as in a criminal trial – beyond a reasonable doubt.
A order is entered by the court finding that the youth committed a delinquent act or violation of law, but adjudication of delinquency is withheld. The court may place the child on community control or other similar community program.
Arrest An arrest is made when a law enforcement officer charges an adult with a criminal act, or violation of law and takes the adult into custody based on probable cause. A juvenile is not “arrested”, but “taken into custody” under the identical circumstances.
Case A case is determined by selecting the most serious offense committed by an individual youth on a specific date. Thus, the number of cases in the juvenile justice system is determined by counting only the most serious offense for which a youth is charged on any specific date; if the youth is referred for several offenses on the same date, this is considered one case and offenses committed by the same youth on another date are considered another case.
Commitment The child is committed to DJJ at a restrictiveness level defined by statute for the purpose of exercising active control of the child.
Rehabilitation program for delinquent juveniles, ranging from the least restrictive to the most restrictive. Higher restrictiveness levels compare to incarceration within the adult system, but with rehabilitative components.
The legal status of probation created by law and court order in cases involving a juvenile who has been found to have committed a delinquent act. Similar to adult probation; it includes the supervision of juveniles by a case manager.
Any action taken by a juvenile under the age of eighteen years, who has not been previously transferred to adult criminal court and sentenced as an adult for a felony that would be a violation of law or ordinance if committed by an adult.
A juvenile who has been found to have committed a delinquent act (equivalent of being found guilty of a criminal offense) by a judge. The juvenile may be adjudicated delinquent or adjudication may be withheld by the court.
The temporary care of a juvenile in secure, non-secure or home detention, pending a court adjudication or disposition or execution of a court order.
Facilities statewide, used primarily as a pre-disposition holding facility for serious offenders. By law, offenders may be held twenty-one days prior to their adjudicatory hearing and up to fifteen days following an order of adjudication. A juvenile may be held up to fifteen days following the disposition of the case, pending residential placement if the department has reason to believe that placement will be available within the fifteen daytime period. High risk and maximum risk offenders are held until placement in a commitment program. Detention is NOT a commitment program, and compares to a jail in the adult system.
Diversion/ Alternative
to Court
A program designed to divert or keep a juvenile from entering the system and as an alternative to court; used at intake prior to adjudication.
Intake Initial acceptance and screening of the child by DJJ. The emphasis of intake is on diversion and the least restrictive available services.
Intervention Programs or services that interrupt the delinquency process and prevent a youth from penetrating further into the juvenile justice system.
Juvenile/youth/child Any unmarried person under the age of eighteen alleged to be dependent, in need of services, or from a family in need of services, or any married or unmarried person who is charged with a violation of law occurring prior to the time that person reached the age of eighteen years. NOTE:

The juvenile court has jurisdiction in delinquency cases until the youth’s nineteenth birthday, or until the youth/adult completes restitution payment as ordered by the juvenile court.

Juvenile Found
to Have Committed
a Delinquent Act
A juvenile who, pursuant to Chapter 985, F.S., is found by a court to have committed a violation of law or to be in direct or indirect contempt of court, except that this definition shall not include an act constituting contempt of court arising out of a dependency (child abuse, neglect or abandonment) proceeding or a proceeding pursuant to CINS/FINS Chapter 984, F.S.
Outcome The status of a juvenile in relation to delinquent behavior after completion of a program or services, and the extent of the change in modifying the original conditions that led to the juvenile being referred for services.
A comprehensive means of assessing the extent of change in the situation of a juvenile offender; a juvenile-in-need-of-services, and, where appropriate, their families; the effect of DJJ activities on the youth’s behaviors; and the cost of those changes.
Prevention All prevention efforts are an investment in public safety and are those efforts that help prevent a juvenile from entering the juvenile justice system as a delinquent. Prevention includes arbitration, diversionary or mediation programs, and community service work or other treatment available subsequent to a child committing a delinquent act (985.03 (15)(c), F.S.).
A process evaluation examines specific components of a program to describe its operations, intentions and internal relationships. Rather than concentrating on the outcomes or results obtained, process evaluations focus on program monitoring and efficiency of services.
QA – a legislatively mandated program whereby each state-operated or contractor-operated program must be evaluated based on standard criteria.
Special Deemed Status – awarded to programs which achieve a performance rating above 80% and are rated in compliance (90% or above on the compliance rating scale) during their annual review.

Deemed Status – awarded to programs which achieve a performance rating between 70-79% inclusive and are rated in compliance (90% or above on the compliance rating scale) during their annual review.

Superior – programs that exceed all aspects of a key indicator with either an innovative, creative approach or a program-wide dedication to exceptional performance that is readily apparent.

Satisfactory or Marginal – programs that meet all or most of the expectations of the department.

Poor or Below Satisfactory – programs that do not meet established minimum thresholds of quality as required by Chapter 985.412, F.S.

As used in the juvenile justice system, a youth is referred to the department based on an allegation of a criminal law violation as listed in the Client Information System.
Sanction The penalty for noncompliance specified in a law or decree; a penalty that acts to ensure compliance or conformity.
Serious or Habitual
Juvenile Offender
A juvenile who has been found to have committed a violation of law, in the case currently before the court, and who meets at least one of the following criteria:

1. The juvenile is at least 13 years old at the time of the disposition for the current offense and has been adjudicated on the current offense for arson, sexual battery, robbery, kidnapping, aggravated child abuse, aggravated assault, aggravated stalking, murder, manslaughter, unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb, armed burglary, aggravated battery, lewd or lascivious assault or act in the presence of a child, carrying, displaying, using, threatening, or attempting to use a weapon or firearm during the commission of a felony.

2. The juvenile is at least 13 years old at the time of the disposition, the current offense is a felony, and the child has previously been committed at least two times to a delinquency commitment program.

3. The juvenile is at least 13 years old and is currently committed for a felony offense and transferred from a moderate risk or high risk residential commitment placement.

Status offenders are defined as juveniles, who have been accused of, or charged with, conduct which would not, under law, be an offense if committed by an adult such as truancy, running away or underage drinking.
Taken into
The status of a juvenile when temporary physical control over the child is attained by a person authorized by law, pending the juvenile’s release, detention, placement, or other disposition as authorized by law. This is similar to an adult arrest.
Ft. Lauderdale Juvenile Defense Lawyer
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