What You Can Expect

While the criminal process may be similar to what occurs with adults, there are several tweaks that make it unique. The first step of the juvenile justice system is either first contact with law enforcement or a civil citation. The latter is a new process in Florida and allows for the justice system to proceed without the need for law enforcement. Following either of those, the minor will be taken into custody, not arrested as an adult would be. From there, they will be taken to either a Juvenile Assessment Center, or a screener will be notified and brought to them.

At this point, there are several different paths that the case can take.

In one case, the child may be referred to a diversion program; these are designed to help curb delinquent behavior and to be an alternative to the child becoming immersed in the legal process. In some cases, the youth may be classified as "low-risk." In these cases, Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) may become the best option. This is a community based program which allows for the youth to avoid being detained. In some cases, the minor will undergo Detention Risk Assessment Instrument (DRAI) to determine detention.

If the child is "high-risk," they will be placed into a secure detention center while further legal action is waiting to be taken. If not, they may be permitted to stay at home until their court date arrives. The next step will be dealing with the question of guilt. There are three possible outcomes. The first is that the case will be dropped, which essentially means that the prosecution had decided not to pursue the case.

The second is that adjudication will be withheld; this means that there is enough evidence to deem the child guilty of the delinquent act, but withhold adjudication. Instead, the child is placed into community supervision. In many cases, the minor will meet with a Juvenile Probation Officer to come up with a Youth-Empowered Success (YES) plan to help set up goals and plans for the future. The third is to have the minor adjudicated; after, they may be committed, placed into a residential facility or put into other supervision.

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  • Guidance

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  • Building a Case

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