Juvenile Justice Process in Florida

If your son or daughter was recently arrested for a crime and you have never been through this experience before, you will likely have a lot of questions about the juvenile justice process in Florida.

To help you better understand how the system works, we are going to explain the difference between non-judicial intervention and court intervention among other important aspects of the juvenile court system.

To begin, we’ll discuss what is called “non-judicial intervention.” Your child’s Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) may recommend that the state attorney have your child complete a “non-judicial” diversion program, which has its benefits.

If the JPO’s recommendation is approved by the state attorney, you and your child would have to sign a “waiver of speedy trial” agreement. By signing this agreement, your child waives his or her right to a speedy trial, and your child is agreeing to fully complete the diversion program.

If your son or daughter successfully completes the diversion program, the state attorney will not pursue any further action against your child. However, if your teen fails to complete the program, then he or she will be in big trouble. From there, the state prosecutor would go ahead and formally charge your teen with a delinquent offense.

When the Juvenile Court Recommends Court Intervention

Each juvenile offender is different and each case is different. While one juvenile may be recommended for non-judicial diversion, another may be quickly recommended for court intervention because of their criminal history and the seriousness of the crime.

Once the JPO has reviewed all of the documentation and evidence of a case, he or she may suggest that the State Attorney’s Office charges the juvenile offender with a delinquent offense. In the legal world, this is known as “recommended court intervention.”

If the juvenile offender committed a very serious offense, or if the juvenile has a long history of getting into trouble with the law (habitual offender), the recommendation for court intervention may mean that the juvenile is tried as an adult.

Juvenile Division of Circuit Court

If the State Attorney decides to file a delinquency petition, then it will be filed with the Juvenile Division of the Circuit Court, which is a special section of the court that handles juvenile violations and cases.

Keep in mind that once your child’s case has been tried in Juvenile Court, your teen’s JPO will no longer have the ability to recommend diversion; they lose that power after the case has been tried in the Juvenile Court. If your child has a history of committing crimes, please be aware that their JPO may recommend that your child is prosecuted in Adult Court.

What if my child does go to Adult Court?

With certain serious felonies, Florida law requires that juvenile offenders are tried in Adult Court. If your child’s case is sent to Adult Court, it may do so by means of a direct file, a waiver, or an indictment. If your child is subject to any of these, he or she may be tried as an adult for the offense committed, which means your child may be subjected to the same sentencing and penalties as an adult.

If your child’s JPO does recommend your child for Adult Court, the Florida Department of Corrections will get involved in your child’s case, and they will give their recommendations to the Adult Court.

If your son or daughter is facing criminal charges in Tampa, we urge you to contact our criminal defense firm to schedule a free case evaluation. We understand what your family is going through and we will provide the hardest-hitting defense possible.

Contact our office at (813) 321-7323 to meet with a former prosecutor about your child’s case!