In Florida, crimes allegedly committed by minors under the age of 18 are handled primarily by the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). This agency tries its best to rehabilitate offenders; in fact, its mission statement reads “To increase public safety by reducing juvenile delinquency through effective prevention, intervention, and treatment services that strengthen families and turn around the lives of troubled youth.” Although the process is designed to focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment, some juvenile offenses do make their way to the adult justice system.
The juvenile justice system can be confusing for alleged offenders and parents alike. If your child was recently arrested in Palm Beach County, it is important to seek a strong defense attorney for the best outcome possible. At The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel, attorney Brian Gabriel has over 30 years of experience defending those of all ages who are criminally accused.
The Juvenile Arrest Process
A juvenile offender may either be arrested at the scene of the crime or after an investigation has been completed. When an offender is taken into custody by law enforcement, he or she may either be released to his or her parents or guardian, or he or she may be released to the Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) in West Palm Beach. When a minor is released to a parent or guardian, law enforcement sends the charges to the State Attorney’s Office for review. All juvenile misdemeanor and felony offense charges, except for misdemeanor traffic offenses, are sent to the State Attorney’s Office Juvenile Division.
When a minor is released to the JAC, his or her case is immediately sent to the State Attorney’s office and the DJJ intake process begins. The intake personnel will complete a Detention Risk Assessment Instrument (DRAI) that considers the nature of the minor’s alleged offense, any prior criminal record, and any aggravating factors, in order to determine whether the alleged offender should be held in secure detention, placed under house arrest, or released back to the parents or guardian.
When can juveniles be tried as adults?
In Florida, minors can be charged as adults in three different circumstances. First, he or she may be charged as an adult when there is a grand jury indictment. This means that a grand jury, or a group of ordinary citizens tasked with investigating criminal activity, brings forth criminal charges for an offense. Next, a minor may be charged as an adult when the state files a formal criminal charge in adult court. Finally, a juvenile case may be transferred by the DJJ to the adult court upon motion by the state. Adult charges tend to be reserved for the most serious of offenses. It is in a youth’s best interests to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can keep his or her case in the juvenile system.
Do not hesitate to get your child the legal care he or she needs to fight the charges against him or her. Criminal charges open up a permanent criminal record that can create several obstacles throughout the rest of your child’s life. In addition, there may be a chance that your child’s charges will be handled in adult court if an experienced attorney does not work to keep them in the juvenile justice system. At The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel, we have defended alleged youth offenders for over 30 years. Call attorney Brian Gabriel at 561-622-5575 to discuss your child’s case or contact us online.