When a child under the age of 18 violates the law in Florida, the juvenile court system will usually handle their case. A minor may be sent to a detention center immediately after being taken into custody by a police officer, or the minor may be released to their parents. In some cases, juveniles are placed on home detention.
If law enforcement officers do not send a child home to their parents after the child is suspected of breaking the law, the child will be sent to a Juvenile Assessment Center operated by the Department of Juvenile Justice. At the JAC, DJJ officials screen the child to determine whether the child should be held in secure detention or home detention.
A juvenile that is being held in secure detention or home detention will have a trial to determine whether they are guilty of committing a crime. A child cannot be held in detention for longer than 21 days without a trial, and detained juveniles are obligated to attend school. Instead of sentencing a child to more time in a detainment center, the DJJ may allow delinquent children to enter diversion programs. Juveniles may be sentenced to probation with conditions such as community service work, financial restitution and substance abuse treatment.
A parent may have their child represented by an attorney during the entire juvenile court process. An attorney may be able to help a minor to avoid detainment in a secure facility by arguing for home detention and probation. If a juvenile believes that they were falsely accused of breaking the law, an attorney may be able to help them plead innocent to the juvenile charges at the hearing.