Florida’s Juvenile Justice System
If you’re the parent of a juvenile who’s had a run-in with the law, it could be a jarring crash with reality to see that your child is now head-to-head with the juvenile justice system. You’re not alone in your concern: over 13,000 youth aged 8-18+ were served in juvenile detention facilities throughout Florida in a single year. You are no doubt concerned about your child’s future, and frightened about what may be in store. Now, more than ever, having an experienced attorney by your side can make a significant difference in outcomes for your child.
What to Expect
The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (FDJJ) has a linear process with which you may need to familiarize yourself:
- Prevention Measures: The FDJJ provides a number of youth programs and interventions aimed at keeping at-risk juveniles out of the justice system and decreasing recidivism rates. It works with community partners toward this end.
- Intake & Probation: In the event a juvenile is involved in criminal activity, an assessment will be completed, a probation officer will meet with the family, and recommendations going forward will be made to the State Attorney.
- Juvenile Detention: After a juvenile is detained in a secure youth facility, a court hearing will be scheduled within 24 hours. A judge may determine that home detention is appropriate until resolution of the case or may extend detention in one of several juvenile facilities for up to three weeks while waiting for a court disposition. For individuals who violate sanctions, detention may be longer yet.
There are several levels of detention that may ensue as per court order:
- Minimum, non-residential: This level is for offenders who pose little risk to themselves or others. Youth live at home and have full access to their communities. They are assigned to participate in an educational program for five days a week.
- Nonsecure Residential Commitment: This option is available for youth who have not been successful with lesser interventions, and is only for non-violent, infrequent offenders. In this scenario, youth live in a residential facility and attend programs on-campus. They may have supervised access to their communities.
- High-Risk Residential: For individuals who are deemed to be a high risk to the public, 24-hour secure custody is mandated. Although home visits may be approved by the court, other community gatherings are off limits.
- Maximum-risk Residential: For those determined to be a serious risk to the public, commitment to a secure facility for as long as 36 months is the last option. This will entail a single-bed cell, with access to group interventions and school during the day.
Addressing Mental Health Issues
For juveniles with substance abuse, suicide, or other mental health issues, counseling is available in detention facilities. Treatment and crisis intervention steps depend on the specific needs of each individual.
Helping You Through
At the office of Julia Kefalinos, we work to secure the best possible outcomes for juvenile offenders. Our knowledgeable Miami DUI attorneys understand the processes and requirements of the juvenile justice system, and are here to help. Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today to discuss your options going forward.
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