The tension can be traumatic for the entire family when a minor is accused of a juvenile crime. Parents are often terrified of what will happen next as their children’s fate and future hang in the balance. What should you do when your child has been arrested or charged with an offense?
Get legal advice from an experienced juvenile defense attorney in Palm Beach. A lawyer will show you what to do step-by-step during this challenging moment. Your child needs a reliable defender, but it doesn’t have to be you.
At Meltzer and Bell law firm, we believe that no matter the charges, your kid deserves a strong defense from a skilled criminal defense attorney. Let us fight for your child while you support them in these dark times.
Want to learn more about the juvenile court system and laws? Read on to discover what to expect and the best way to handle the situation.
Child Arrested or Accused of a Crime: What Happens Next?
Like other states in the U.S., Florida has a separate justice system for minor and adult offenders. The legal system for people under 18 years is called the Juvenile Justice System, where courts typically handle minors’ allegations.
Similar to adults, the offenses committed by juveniles and heard in the juvenile legal systems range from minor crimes to serious felonies. This may include drug law violations, property crimes, and public order offenses.
The best thing about the Juvenile Justice System is that its ultimate goal is rehabilitating minor offenders instead of punishing them. The idea is that children or underage youths have the rest of their lives to contribute to society. Rehabilitation can be sufficient to prevent them from embracing the life of crime.
When Minors Are Tried As Adults
In some cases, a minor can be tried in an adult criminal court and with the same consequences if found guilty. Getting tried in an adult court means the juvenile is subject to more severe consequences if declared guilty. This could mean serving time in adult prison rather than participating in a juvenile program.
What factors influence a juvenile case being tried in an adult court?
- A minor is charged with a severe offense, typically violent crimes, serious drug violations, or residential burglary.
- The juvenile’s previous crime records and nearness to reaching the legal age
- Past rehabilitation efforts for the minor have been unfruitful.
The goal of an adult court inclines more toward punishing than rehabilitating the offender. When a child is prosecuted as an adult, conviction penalties can be intolerable for the parent or guardian. It’s devastating for a family to think of their child being sentenced to adult jail.
A skilled juvenile defense lawyer is your best asset to prevent a minor’s case from crossing the bridge to the adult court. At Meltzer and Bell P.A., we strongly advocate for minor offenders NOT being treated as adults.
We’ll do everything possible within the law to keep your minor’s case within the juvenile court system, which emphasizes rehabilitation over punishment. We’ll ensure all the necessary procedures are followed to prevent the case from reaching the adult justice system. Request a FREE case evaluation and see what we can do for a minor facing charge.
Penalties for Juvenile Offenders in Florida
As mentioned earlier, the aim of the juvenile justice system in Florida is not to punish minor convicts but to rehabilitate them. First-time offenders may qualify for a juvenile diversion program.
The program redirects youthful offenders from the formal justice system through supervision, programming, and support. Typical services provided in diversion programs include:
- Victim awareness activities and classes
- Service-learning programs
- Screening and assessments
- Mental health treatment
- Substance use education and counseling
In most cases, services delivered in diversion programs occur in the community, either in the youth’s home, community sites, or school campuses. Whether or not a minor offender is eligible for a diversion program is a matter of negotiation with the accuser.
An experienced lawyer can leverage their negotiation skills to help a juvenile offender get the best possible terms for participating in a juvenile diversion program.
Depending on the offender’s argument in court, a minor convict can be sentenced to community service, get fine penalties, or be forced to take rehabilitation courses such as anger management classes.
Sometimes, the best interest is to send the juvenile home with their family. Such scenarios may result in penalties like probation or house arrest.
No matter the seriousness of the committed crime, an experienced juvenile attorney can reduce the severity of the penalties in a conviction.
Why You Need a Juvenile Defense Attorney, Even If You Feel There’s No Hope
If your child or teen is facing legal charges, a criminal defense lawyer from Meltzer and Bell law firm can be the difference in shaping their future. Here’s why.
1. Protect Your Teen’s Future
Your child having a criminal record can be a huge repercussion in the future, such as limited job opportunities. A lawyer from our firm may help prevent or eliminate aggravating factors in the case so that their criminal records are sealed after serving court-ordered sentences.
With sealed crime records, your teen can live as if nothing ever happened because the records won’t be available to the public.
2. Speed Up the Process
Without a reliable defense attorney, juvenile cases can drag on for months, if not years. An experienced lawyer can leverage negotiation skills and mastery of the law to speed things up. This ensures your child and family return to their everyday lives as quickly as possible.
3. Reliable Legal Advice
Knowledge of the law and experience in the industry puts us in a better position to guide you through the entire legal process. We’ll ensure you and your child understand all the legal options. Then, we help you choose the way forward with your best interests in mind.
4. We Help You Get the Best Possible Results from the Case
Depending on the crime, a juvenile defense attorney from Meltzer and Bell may help get the case completely dismissed. We might also fight for the lowest possible penalty, like community service, house arrest, and probation.