Having a child face criminal charges is not an ideal situation for parents. Parents or adults experiencing this situation need to understand and learn more about the legal process, as it will always be helpful for them.
What is juvenile delinquency?
Juvenile delinquency refers to crimes committed by a minor. Children 18 years and younger who commit crimes commit juvenile delinquency. When children commit a criminal offense, the case is sent to the Juvenile Delinquency Court.
Juveniles, according to Florida law, do not have the right to a jury trial. Instead, a judge will conduct the adjudicatory hearing in a public courtroom. Your child, however, has the right to be represented by an attorney in court and other necessary stages.
What the juvenile court process looks like
Most adults may not be familiar with a juvenile court. They will not know what to expect if their children are involved. Cases in Juvenile Delinquency Court have an important process. At the beginning of the case, the minor is arrested by a law enforcement officer. In less severe crimes, the officer usually issues a citation for the minor and their parents to appear in court. In more severe crimes, the minor may be taken to juvenile hall to stay pending the first court appearance.
A minor has a detention hearing, their first appearance before the judge. At this stage, the judge will choose to either detain the minor until the adjudication hearing or to allow the minor to remain at home during the pre-adjudication period. There is also the fitness hearing, which is usually requested to decide whether a case should be transferred to the adult criminal justice system. This happens for serious felonies.
Other pre-trial hearings may occur before the adjudication to reach possible disposition. If it is successful, the minor may admit guilt, and the court will follow the details of the disposition. The adjudication is a trial where the minor is found guilty or innocent, with the District Attorney trying to prove the charges. The final stage is the disposition. This occurs when the judge determines the final outcome of the case.
Most adjudicated minors are either sentenced to probation or residential placement. Those on probation stay at home, supervised by a probation officer. They are given rules to abide by and mandatory activities to engage in. Minors placed in residential facilities stay in different types of homes catering to the children’s welfare and mental health. The facilities are subject to change based on the child’s behavior and willingness to cooperate.
Criminal cases relating to children are very sensitive and stressful ones. By understanding the legal system concerning juvenile delinquency, you will know what to expect if your child is charged. “The consequences of being convicted of a crime can have a significant impact on your life and the lives of the people you love,” says criminal defense attorney attorney Adam Rossen. It may not be easy to go through, but learning about the process will give you a better understanding of how to defend your child legally.