What Happens to Juvenile Offenders?

If you or a loved one is arrested for a juvenile offense, you are probably wondering what will happen. Juvenile cases are handled differently than adult cases, so you may not be familiar with the process. Let’s take a closer look at the juvenile justice system in Florida.

Prevention

Prevention is a crucial part of the juvenile justice system. Community stake holders, the office of Prevention and Victim Services, and volunteers work tirelessly to provide support services to youths in the community. Outreach plays a huge role in prevention by bridging the gap in areas where criminal activity is considered a means of survival. Protecting children from abuse and neglect also helps to support them and provide an opportunity to live a normal life.

Intake

If a minor is arrested for criminal activity it is called “intake.” The intake process consists of three steps:

  1. The alleged offender undergoes a Detention Risk Assessment Instrument (DRAI) by a screener in the area.
  2. A Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) meets with the child and their family to further assess the risk to public safety and any social service needs.
  3. The JPO uses the results of the assessment and the meeting to make a recommendation to the State Attorney.

The State Attorney may decide to either proceed with the case or dismiss the charges. In an adult criminal case, this would be like the arraignment hearing.

Court Disposition

During an adjudicatory hearing, the alleged offender will appear before a judge to hear the outcome of their case and possible punishment. The court will decide whether to adjudicate the child or dismiss the case. If an alleged juvenile offender is adjudicated, the judge rules that the child committed a criminal act or violation of the law.

The judge may also choose to issue a verdict of adjudication withheld. This means that while there is sufficient evidence to indicate criminal activity, the alleged offender will not receive a formal pronouncement of delinquency. Delinquency determines whether the child is committed to juvenile justice officials. Only adjudicated offenders go into police custody.

Probation and Reentry

Juvenile offenders are supervised by a Juvenile Probation Officer. The JPO will work with the offender to create a YES plan. YES, or Youth-Empowered Success plans combine DRAI assessment results, case evidence, and personal history to establish goals for the offender.

YES plans are intended to be personalized, and should include aspirations, pain points, and steps that the offender can take to reenter society.

JPOs use YES plans as a launch point for reentry. In other words, it’s the JPO’s job to advise and direct the offender as they attempt to transition back into the community. To do this, JPOs may work with community groups, support networks, and other local resources to provide support.

Life After the Juvenile Justice System

Depending on the age of the offender and their family circumstances, life after the court system may be rough at first.

Generally, background checks look for felony convictions, so unless the offender is tried and convicted in adult court, they do not have to indicate a history of criminal activity. Some employers may use a comprehensive background check that scans state records. This may lead to discovery of a juvenile offense, but unless the employer uses specific software to detect juvenile crimes, employment is still within reach.

However, it is important to remember that juvenile offenses can come back to haunt former offenders. If the offender is later arrested for a crime as an adult, the prosecution may use their prior juvenile record against them in court.

Juvenile cases are often complicated and emotional. The best thing you can do if you or a loved one is accused of a crime as a minor is to speak to an attorney.

Contact The Law Office of David A. Webster, P.A. for more information.