St. Petersburg Juvenile Justice System Process Attorneys
Serving Florida Clients Under the Age of 18 & Their Parents
Individuals under the age of 18 who have been accused of committing criminal offenses in St. Petersburg and the surrounding counties will be handled by the Juvenile Justice system. As opposed to adult courts that focus on criminal punishment according to state and federal law, the Juvenile system concentrates on rehabilitation and reintegration into the community for young offenders. Its main focus is on treatment and education for youth that is aimed towards bringing about a positive change in their behavior.
If you are juvenile offender or the parent of one, it is vital that you understand the juvenile justice system process and that you have a proper defense attorney working your case. At Morris Law Firm, P.A., you can depend on a legal team that has extensive experience assisting youth and their parents when facing criminal charges. We can provide the legal advice, guidance, and support you need at this critical time in the life of your family. Our attorneys will do everything possible to help your child avoid the negative consequences of a permanent criminal record, jail time, and other sanctions.
How Does the Juvenile Justice System Work?
As a parent or guardian, it is important for you to understand how the process works so that you can be informed and properly involved as your child moves through the system.
The following steps are typical in a juvenile criminal case:
- The juvenile is arrested, an arrest document that states the charge is created, and a complaint is made to the state attorney’s office who decides if probable cause exists.
- The juvenile remains in a detention center until a hearing is held in which a judge determines whether to release the juvenile. If a release is allowed, certain conditions may be imposed.
- The state attorney’s office investigates the case to decide if enough evidence exists to file formal charges. If lack of evidence or other circumstances indicate the charges should not be filed, the investigation ends and the case is over. However the arrest record will remain which can later be sealed or expunged.
- The juvenile may be referred to a pre-trial diversion program such as Teen Court which is common for first offenders. This is a non-judicial program for young offenders under 18 involving probation and other programs.
- If charges are filed, the next step is an arraignment hearing where the juvenile is told what the charges consist of. At this hearing, the juvenile or his attorney enters a plea which can be one of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Sentencing may occur at this point or forwarded to a disposition hearing.
- At this point, “discovery” will occur in which witnesses and victims of the alleged crime will give depositions giving information as to what occurred. The juvenile will not be present during any depositions.
- The above is followed by pretrial conference where the juvenile will appear in court. If he or she has not pled to the charges, this will be another chance to do so.
- A trial will follow that involves a juvenile judge only without any jury. The juvenile’s attorney can present his or her case.
- In many cases, the juvenile court may request a pre-dispositional report from the Department of Juvenile Justice before imposing any sentence. This report will detail the background, circumstances, and any criminal history of the juvenile and will likely contain sentencing recommendations for the judge to consider.
- After the above, the judge will sentence the juvenile in what he or she considers an appropriate way, such as with probation or to a juvenile facility for one of four terms depending on the risk level involved. These terms can be 30 – 45 days (low risk), four to six months (moderate risk), six to nine months (high risk) or juvenile prison for a term of 18 to 36 months.
- In the case of probation, if the juvenile does not comply with all of its terms, a compliance hearing may occur. These generally occur when court costs or restitution to victims has not been paid.
Defenses to Juvenile Charges
While rehabilitation is the goal of the Juvenile Justice System, a child may still suffer harsh consequences that could impact future education and employment opportunities. Defenses against such can be used to have the charges reduced or dismissed. These defenses can include lack of evidence, mistaken identity, and arguments about the severity of the sentencing as it will affect the youth’s future going forward. It is also important to know that, as a parent, you may be required to pay up to $2,500 in restitution for each crime that involved your child and you can also be subject to a civil lawsuit for the victim’s damages. If the charges are dropped, however, it can minimize these consequences. ,
Ready to Get Started? Call Morris Law Firm, P.A.
Our firm can represent your juvenile in the filing of all motions to dismiss the case or motions filed to exclude evidence. We are here to represent your youth in all aspects of his or her juvenile case to maximize the chance of a positive outcome. We represent youth is all pretrial hearings and motions as well as at all trials.
Contact us at (727) 592-5885 to get started today.
FORMER STATE PROSECUTOR
Melinda Morris is a former prosecutor and has handled thousands of criminal cases from investigation through sentencing enabling us to identify weaknesses in the State’s case against you.
We never settle for the easiest outcome or the typical result. We know how to negotiate with the State Attorney and we will work to get you the best possible outcome.
TRUSTED & EXPERIENCED
Melinda Morris has practiced criminal law for over 20 years. Our clients trust advice that comes from experience in nearly every type of criminal case.
We will know every client’s story because we will take the time to listen and understand. You will work with your attorney one-on-one at every stage of the process.
You will have the cell phone number of your attorney. Your attorney will directly return your call, email, or text to answer your pressing questions.
SAME DAY REPRESENTATION
The government is wasting no time in trying to prove your guilt, a proactive defense is imperative. Prompt and decisive action from your defense attorney is of critical importance.