Understanding the Juvenile Criminal Justice System in Jacksonville
The vast majority of juveniles in the Florida juvenile justice system have been arrested for minor juvenile crimes and infractions, such as truancy, marijuana possession, vandalism, and disorderly conduct. These young teens may have failed a drug test, skipped school, or fallen into the wrong crowd. Because of their age, the Florida juvenile justice system is focused heavily on rehabilitation and not on punishment. Every attempt is made to provide troubled youth with the resources and education they need to put their lives on the right track.
Arrest and Juvenile Detention
If your child has been arrested and charged with a criminal offense, it may be a scary time for you both. Upon arrest, your child will likely be taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center to determine their risk and needs.
During this time, authorities will locate and notify the parents of their child’s arrest. The child will then be given an assessment to determine if they can be released home with their parents or if they are to be sent to a secure detention center to await their hearing. The secure juvenile detention center in Jacksonville, Florida is the 100 bed Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center. It serves youth throughout Duval, Clay, Nassau, and St. Johns counties, and is located at 1214 E. 8th St. in Jacksonville.
When Formal Charges are Filed
In the juvenile justice system, the State Attorney’s office will decide how your child’s case will proceed. They will make one of four decisions:
- Dismiss the case – the charges against the child will be dropped. This usually occurs when there is a lack of evidence
- Divert case – they may place certain conditions on the child completing specific programs before their case will be dismissed.
- Transfer case – in extreme or violent cases, they may decide to transfer the case out of juvenile courts and into the adult system.
- File formal charges – filing charges through the juvenile justice system means that there will be a more formal hearing to determine if the child is found guilty of committing the delinquent act.
If formal charges are filed, the juvenile, their parents, and their attorney will be required to attend an arraignment hearing where they will enter their plea of guilty or not guilty. Next, they will be required to attend an adjudicatory hearing. This hearing is similar to an adult trial, except there is no jury present. Here the judge will hear all testimonies and review the details of the case. Both sides will have a chance to present their case and the court will determine if they find the youth guilty of committing the delinquent act.
Jacksonville Juvenile Defense Lawyers
At Lockett Law, our Jacksonville juvenile defense attorneys know that children often make mistakes. Yet, we believe that these mistakes should not define their entire future. That’s why we work tirelessly to protect them every step of the way and to keep their cases in juvenile court and out of the adult court system. If your child has been arrested, it is important to act quickly. Call us today at (904) 667-0626 or fill out our confidential contact form. We are ready to fight for you!