Anytime a child is arrested for a crime, the outcome of the case has the potential to have serious implications on the child’s life moving forward. Fortunately, there are programs set up in Florida that can help your child bypass the criminal justice system.
With the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Palm Beach County, your child may be accepted into one of these programs, which could help him avoid having a permanent stain on his or her criminal record. These programs are not right for every child. Also, your attorney can help you find private counseling options so that your child is not grouped in with more troubled children.
Attorney for Juvenile Defense in West Palm Beach, FL
The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. have years of experience representing juveniles who have been charged with crimes in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Wellington, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, Juno Beach, Jupiter, Belle Glade, Royal Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Greenacres and the surrounding areas in Palm Beach County. We also represent juveniles in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.
If your child has been charged with a crime, we can help. Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell make it a point to be available to their clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Call us today at (561) 557-8686 so that our team of attorneys can get started on your case.
Information Center for Juvenile Charges in Florida
- Florida Process for Juvenile Delinquents
- Juvenile Diversion Programs in Palm Beach County
- Sentencing and Penalties for Juveniles in Florida
- Finding the Best Juvenile Crimes Defense Attorney in West Palm Beach
When an individual who is less than 18 years old commits a crime, it is usually classified as a juvenile offense and he or she will go through the juvenile delinquency process. After the juvenile is arrested, he or she will be taken to the Palm Beach County juvenile assessment center to be processed.
At this time, a juvenile probation officer will interview the offender and his or her family. The purpose of this interview is to assess the juvenile’s behavior and home life, and attempt to come up with a solution to keep the juvenile out of trouble. After the assessment, the juvenile will either be released into the custody of his or her parent/guardian, or detained in juvenile detention.
The probation officer will give the State Attorney a recommendation on whether to allow the child entry into a juvenile diversion program, or prosecute him for his or her offense. Regardless of the probation officer’s recommendation, the State Attorney has the final say in how the juvenile’s case will be handled.
If a decision is made to allow the juvenile entry into a diversion program, the juvenile will have the opportunity to have the charges against them dropped after completing predetermined court requirements. Some of the most common requirements of juvenile diversion programs include:
- Community service
- Jury duty
- Attending anger management
- Attending substance abuse classes
- Rehabilitation programs
One of the most commonly used diversion programs in Palm Beach County is the Teen Court program. In this program, other juveniles are trained to act as prosecutors, defense attorneys, and jurors. An actual judge or attorney presides over the case.
Before the Teen Court proceedings begin, the parent or guardian of the juvenile delinquent must sign a contract agreeing to carry out the sanctions that are issued in Teen Court. If the requirements of the pretrial diversion program are not met, the individual can be removed from the program and face the charges for his or her alleged offense.
If juveniles are not accepted into a juvenile diversion program, there are other options for avoiding time behind bars. If it his or her first offense, and it is a misdemeanor crime, the juvenile can face civil litigation. Civil litigation is a program in place that is designed to rehabilitate juveniles, rather than punish them. Some of the common penalties and recommendations of civil litigation include:
- Regularly submitting to drug tests
- Paying restitution
- School progress report monitoring
- Attending substance abuse rehabilitation
- Written apologies to victims
- Attending counseling
- Performing community service
If an individual is not admitted into a juvenile diversion program, and he or she does not qualify for the civil citation program, he or she will stand trial for the alleged offense. Penalties vary depending on the crime and the juvenile’s criminal history. In some cases, juvenile delinquents are charged as adults and can be sentenced to several years behind bars.
If your child has been accused of a crime, his or her future is at risk. With so much at stake, having the right attorney to represent him or her is critical. A dedicated West Palm Beach juvenile offense lawyer from Meltzer & Bell, P.A. is ready and willing to defend your child.
With a former prosecutor and former public defender at the firm, you can be sure that your child is in the hands of an experienced team who will handle your child’s case with the dedication and focus it deserves. We represent clients in Palm Beach County, including the cities of Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, Wellington or anywhere else in the county. Contact us today at (561) 557-8686.
This article was last updated on Thursday, October 13, 2016.