20th Oct 2014
No matter your age, the criminal justice system is structured similarly: You are arrested, formally charged with a crime, and then thrust in the court system. After that, you either fight the allegation in a court of law or make other arrangements, such as a settlement/plea bargain.
However, if you are a juvenile (under the age of 18) in Florida at the time of your arrest, you enter a system of justice quite distinguishable from that of an adult, because you are not considered an adult and your crimes are considered juvenile crimes in Miami and elsewhere in the State of Florida.
The System for Juvenile Crimes in Florida
The Florida justice system in regards to juveniles is structured to favor rehabilitation over punishment, as juveniles are presumed to lack the judgment and experience that should guide adults. This is why a juvenile case is titled “In the best interests of John Doe … or In re John Doe…” as opposed to, in the adult system, “State versus John Doe.” However, simply being a juvenile does not guarantee you will be prosecuted as such: Juvenile defendants can be prosecuted as adults when the allegation is significant. Prosecuting a juvenile is adult court is called a “direct filing”.
There are a variety of aspects of the law in regards to juvenile crimes in Miami that are different from the how adults are treated:
- There is no bail bond system; instead, Juveniles may be released into their parents’ custody after arrest or court appearances.
- If not released to their parents, Juveniles may be held in Juvenile Detention Centers but [generally] only up to twenty one days.
- Juveniles found guilty are often sentenced to community service, classes, or counseling programs as opposed to prison.
- Publicity about Juveniles is protected: Information about the case is not a matter of public record. There is supposed to be a strict confidentiality concerning any information about a juvenile case.
- Parents are supposed to have a more direct role in the process.
- There are no jury trials, judges decide everything.
If you are a child accused of juvenile crimes in Miami or the parent of a child so accused, an attorney experienced in defending juveniles is essential to protect them and their interests. An experienced attorney, having a relationship with the prosecuting office may be able to influence how that prosecuting office actually handles the case and makes filing decisions.