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Juvenile Criminal Process

The juvenile justice process is not as harsh as the adult justice system, but that doesn’t mean the charges against your child are not serious. Your child will not be sentenced to any jail or prison time. They could, however, spend time in a detention facility, have to complete probation and have a mark on their criminal records.

The juvenile criminal process is just as complicated as the adult justice process. There are many steps involved that will require the guidance of an experienced juvenile defense attorney.

Juvenile Defense Attorney in Melbourne, FL

By viewing this page, you already understand the seriousness of the charges against your child. No one expects their child to be capable of committing a crime, so we understand how alarming this situation is.

If your child is convicted, they will have a mark on their criminal records that has the potential to affect their life long after adolescence. To mitigate this factor, Bryan McCarthy will aggressively fight on your child’s behalf. We will listen to your story and find the best legal option available for your situation.

Schedule a time to speak with us more about your child’s case. The Law Offices of Bryan J. McCarthy can be reached at (321) 248-7742, or by submitting your information in the online contact form.

We represent juveniles in counties that include Brevard County, Volusia County and Indian River County.

Information Center

  • Florida’s Juvenile Justice System
  • How are Juveniles Charged in FL?
  • Juvenile Drug Court
  • Additional Resources

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Florida’s Juvenile Justice System

Being arrested is a frightening experience, no matter how old you are. If you or your child was recently arrested for a juvenile crime, it would be a good idea to gain an understanding of how the juvenile criminal process works. This will also make you a better-informed citizen and allow parents and guardians to be more involved in what their child is going through.

Police Custody / Detention Center: When a minor is arrested, they will either be taken to the local police department or a juvenile assessment center. If the child is taken to an assessment center, a counselor will draft a risk assessment report. This will be used to determine if the minor will require secure detention. If the child requires secure detention, they will be transferred to a juvenile detention center until their detention hearing, which is required to be within 24 hours of the initial arrest.

Detention Hearing: During the hearing, a judge will explain the charges against the child, and determine if the child should be held pending their adjudicatory hearing. The minor’s trial is required to be held within 21 days if the judge decides to keep the child in holding. It is crucial that you have a defense attorney by this point.

Pleas: The minor is allowed to plead “guilty” or “no contest” at any point during the process. Their attorney is not allowed to make this decision for them. If the child decides to plead guilty or no contest, there will not be a trial and the case will move to sentencing.

Adjudicatory Hearing: This is the juvenile justice system of a trial. There are no juries in adjudicatory hearings, so it is up to the judge to decide. The state will be required to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the child is guilty. If the child is found guilty, they could be held in a detention center for 15 days before the disposition hearing.

Disposition Hearing: A judge will explain the child’s punishment. The main focus of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate the child, so they cannot be sentenced to prison time. The judge can, however, sentence the child to probation, a treatment programs or a commitment program.

The juvenile justice system is just as complex as the adult justice system. The juvenile defense attorney at Law Offices of Bryan J. McCarthy can guide you through this complicated process. He can also answer any question you may have about your child’s charges.

How are Juveniles Charged in FL?

Like mentioned earlier, a minor will not be sentenced to jail or prison time. The only way this would happen is if they were tried as an adult. The extent of the penalties for a juvenile crime will depend on the offense the child was charged with. It will also depend on other factors such as their criminal record and if any aggravating factors were involved.

Since a minor cannot be sentenced to jail time, a judge will typically sentence them to probation, house arrest or juvenile detention. How long a child is sentenced will depend on the crime and the risk level determined by the Department of Juvenile Justice. A juvenile could be sentenced to up 21 days, but no more than 30 in a detention facility.

A child cannot be held in a juvenile detention center past their 18th birthday. If the child’s birthday falls within their sentence, they will be released.

Another common penalty for juvenile crimes is probation. Certain conditions must be fulfilled during the minor’s probation period. Some of these conditions include:

  • Complete community service hours
  • Submit to random alcohol and drug testing
  • Attend school full time
  • Complete family or individual counseling
  • Pay restitution to victims

If a judge orders the minor to pay restitution, the responsibility will fall on their parents or guardian. If the parent or guardian fails to pay the restitution amount, they could have their paychecks garnished.

Juvenile Drug Court

Judges have more flexibility when it comes penalizing minors. Aside from probation, house arrest and time in a detention center, a judge could also sentence the child to a juvenile drug court.

Drug court is a treatment program for juveniles with substance abuse issues. The program acts as an alternative to spending time a detention facility. Once the child has completed the program, their charges will be dismissed.

Juvenile drug court is a much better alternative than being convicted of a juvenile crime. Unfortunately, though, not everyone is eligible to attend the program. For starters, the minor would have had to have been arrested for a drug offense. These offenses may include:

  • Possession of marijuana
  • Minor in possession of alcohol
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia

Whether or not a child decides to attend the program is entirely up to them. Their participation is voluntary, but it would be in their best interest to attend if they are eligible.

Additional Resources for Juvenile Criminal Process in Melbourne, FL

Florida Department of Juvenile Justice – Follow this link to visit the official website for the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. You can gain access to department research, hotline information and other resources like health services and scholarship information.

Juvenile Justice Process– View a flowchart of the juvenile justice process provided by the Department of Juvenile Justice. The interactive chart allows you to view a brief explanation of each step as well as related FAQs.

Juvenile Defense Lawyer in Melbourne, FL

The juvenile criminal system is a complicated process that shouldn’t be navigated without trusted legal representation. Bryan McCarthy has years of experience defending juveniles in court. He will exhaust all of their resources to ensure the best possible outcome is achieved for your situation.

To schedule a free case consultation, call (321) 248-7742 or submit your information in the online contact form. We defend juvenile of criminal offenses in areas that include Melbourne, June Park, Palm Shores, Satellite Beach, Indian Harbour Beach and many more.