Juvenile Diversion Program

In the state of Florida, individuals under the age of 18 charged with criminal offenses are categorized as juvenile offenders. These offenders’ cases are handled by the Department of Juvenile Justice, also referred to as the DJJ.

The DJJ examines the circumstances surrounding the juvenile offender’s case and uses these facts to determine a fitting punishment for the offense. One way to forego time in a juvenile detention center is to participate in one of Florida’s diversion programs.

If you or someone you know is a juvenile offender facing criminal charges, participating in a juvenile diversion program may be the best option for you. Speaking with a skilled attorney can be extremely beneficial to you during this stressful time.

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Attorney for Juvenile Diversion Programs in West Palm Beach, FL

If you or a juvenile under your custody has had the misfortune of being arrested for a criminal offense, you need an attorney who is suited to fight for you in any venue. Whether in the courtroom or in negotiations, the attorneys of Meltzer & Bell, P.A. are prepared to take on your case.

At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., a team of attorneys is waiting to work with you to defend you against any heinous penalties you may face. Each associate at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. has the legal experience and background to take on the most complex legal issues.

The juvenile defense attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. also represent children who are rejected from the Juvenile First Offender (JFO) Civil Citation Program in Palm Beach County when the State Attorney’s Office decides to file criminal charges after the child claims to be not guilty, is not willing to waive due process rights, does not meet the JFO Program criteria, does not want to actively participate in the program, is re-arrested, or fails to successfully complete the program.

If you were arrested as a criminal offender and seek to avoid time in a detention center or other harsh penalties, call Meltzer & Bell, P.A. at (561) 557-8686 today to schedule your free consultation. Your future depends on your actions now. This firm operates out of West Palm Beach and serves those in Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Wellington, and surrounding areas.

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Juvenile Diversion Program Information Center

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Benefits of a Juvenile Diversion Program

Juvenile Diversion Programs are a smart alternative for many individuals charged with criminal offenses. Specifically, those individuals charged with criminal offenses which could result in time in a juvenile detention center may benefit from Florida’s Juvenile Diversion Programs.

These programs may include anger management classes, religious services, educational instruction, community service, or a number of other character building programs. Upon a careful examination of your case, you may discover that this program may be a good alternative for you. The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. can help you through this process.

Penalties in diversion programs in juvenile cases considered for diversion in Palm Beach County can include:

  • performing community service hours;
  • taking a tour of the jail;
  • participating in youth court;
  • observing a curfew;
  • writing essays;
  • writing a letter of apology;
  • anti-theft or anger management classes for shoplifting;
  • being subject to random drug testing for drug crimes;
  • paying restitution for theft or criminal mischief crimes

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Options for Juvenile Diversion Program

There are countless programs to choose from for juvenile diversion programs, each offering different benefits. Some of the most common programs include the following:

Teen Court– Juvenile court, state attorneys, the DJJ, and other qualified sources may refer an individual to teen court. This program gives first-time offenders the option to appear in front of a jury of minors to have their cases examined. Upon completion of the resulting teen court sanctions, an offender may eventually participate as a member of the Teen Court.

However, those accused of more serious third-degree felonies are ineligible to participate in this program.

Juvenile Alternative Service Program– (JASP) is a program that an offender must be referred to by the state attorney’s office or the DJJ. To qualify for this program, an offender must meet at least four of the extensive service needs including:

  • Housing
  • Runaway
  • Problems at school
  • Family dysfunction
  • Substance abuse
  • Mental health problems

The juvenile offender and his or her guardian must meet with an advisor to discuss expectations of the program, completion dates, and to review services. These services or sanctions must be completed within 90 days of the date the case was received.

Community Arbitration– Under §985.16, community arbitration is intended to provide a fast and informal system to deal with juveniles accused of delinquent acts. After a community arbitration hearing, a community arbitration panel, or arbitrator may perform any of the following actions:

  • Recommend that the state attorney declines to prosecute the offender;
  • Recommend that the state attorney declines to prosecute and issue a warning to the juvenile;
  • Refer the juvenile for placement in a community-based non-residential program;
  • Refer the juvenile or family to community counseling;
  • Refer the juvenile to a safety and education program related to delinquent juveniles;
  • Refer the juvenile to a work program related to delinquent juveniles and require a maximum of 100 hours of work;
  • Refer the juvenile to a nonprofit organization for volunteer work in the community and require a maximum of 100 hours of work;
  • Order restitution not exceeding the amount of the actual property damage in cases involving property damage;
  • Continue the case for further investigation;
  • Require the juvenile to undergo reoccurring drug tests; or
  • Imposing any other restrictions or sanctions designed to encourage responsible and acceptable behavior and that are agreed upon by all participants in the proceedings.

Juvenile First Offender Programs– This program is available to first-time offenders including those accused of alcohol possession, less than 20 grams of marijuana possession, shoplifting, simple battery, or similar offenses. To qualify for this program, an offender must sign a statement admitting guilt and relinquishing his or her rights to due process. This program typically consists of drug testing, restitution, essays of apology, and several other programs.

Upon successful completion of this program, a juvenile offender can avoid criminal charges on his or her record.

Intensive Delinquency Diversion Services– This program is aimed at preventing at-risk juvenile offenders from becoming repeat offenders as adults. Qualified offenders will have at least one documented risk factor in three out of four areas based on a PACT pre-screen.

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Juvenile Diversion Program Resources

Florida Department of Juvenile Justice –  Search this database for information on different programs under Juvenile Diversion Programs.

Teen Rehab – This organization provides help for teenagers with addiction issues and related issues.

Juvenile First Offender Program in Palm Beach County – Visit the website of the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office to learn more about the Juvenile First Offender (JFO) Citation Program. The program diverts kids with a first offense away from the juvenile justice system. The offense included within the citation program include criminal mischief, possession of alcohol by a minor child, possession of marijuana under 20g, possession of cannabis paraphernalia, affray, shoplifting, simple battery, and trespass. The child and their parents are then given a Notice of Referral and a Notice of Arbitration Hearing. To participate in the program, the child must admit guilt, sign a statement waiving their rights to due process, and be willing to actively participate in the program. If the youth complies with the requirements of the program, then no criminal charges will be filed.

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Finding a Lawyer for Juvenile Diversion Programs in Palm Beach County

If you or a juvenile in your custody are facing criminal charges, you may not know that you have options. A criminal charge does not guaranty time in a juvenile detention center. The state of Florida seeks to rehabilitate juvenile offenders, thus preventing them from becoming repeat adult offenders.

If any of this applies to you, act now. Call Meltzer & Bell, P.A. at (561) 557-8686 to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who will work tirelessly on your behalf. This firm serves clients in Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Wellington, and surrounding areas.

This article was last updated on March 30, 2018.

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