What is the juvenile justice process in Florida?

On Behalf of | Apr 30, 2024 | Juvenile Crimes

When a youth violates the law, the justice process goes through stages depending on the offense. Juvenile delinquent acts include shoplifting, assault, theft, driving under the influence and drug possession. If your child is facing a charge for a misdemeanor or felony, how will you navigate their sensitive situation?

Assessments and hearings

After the authorities have taken an alleged juvenile delinquent into custody, they might give the youth a civil citation for a first misdemeanor offense. They could also release them to an alternative diversion program or probation office or turn them over to a series of stages that the Florida Courts listed:

  • Juvenile Assessment Center: This is where a youth undergoes further evaluation so that a juvenile probation officer can make recommendations to the state attorney. The officer will also determine if the detention should be at home or in a nonsecure or secure setting.
  • Detention hearing: If a youth is in detention care, the court must hold this hearing to decide on the detention. Other options are ordering them to a diversion program or giving the state attorney time to petition for the youth’s trial in an adult court.
  • Arraignment hearing: When there is detention and the filing of a petition for delinquency, this hearing will allow the youth to respond to the allegations. If they deny the offense or do not respond, then they will head into an adjudicatory hearing.
  • Adjudicatory hearing: This hearing, which does not have a jury, will allow the youth to testify, present evidence and cross-examine the witnesses. Meanwhile, the burden of proof is on the state. A court will dismiss the case if it finds the youth innocent or decide or withhold adjudication if the youth is delinquent.
  • Disposition hearing: This will take place after an adjudicatory hearing or following the youth’s admission to committing the offense. During this hearing, the judge will impose sanctions.

When deciding on the sanctions during disposition, the judge should consider the predisposition report or other recommendations of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Dispositions may cover community service, probation, home detention, commitment to the DJJ or restitution.

Facing a juvenile charge

The stress and anxiety due to a juvenile charge might be too heavy for your child to bear. With solid legal guidance, you and your child may gather the strength and courage to face and challenge the charge.


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