Tampa Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer

Young people make mistakes—that is a fact of youth. However, when these mistakes violate local or state laws, they can have far-reaching consequences for those involved, regardless of intention.

If a child you are responsible for has been arrested for an offense in Florida, they could face severe consequences. Even though the juvenile system works differently from the regular criminal justice system, an arrest can still cause problems that follow them into their adult life.

As a parent or guardian, your main priority is the protection of your child. Our team at Mike G Law is committed to fair representation and protecting young people’s rights. 

If you are looking for a juvenile criminal defense attorney, we are here to help. Read on to find out more about juvenile crime in Florida and how we could help you. 

Understanding Juvenile Crime in Florida 

The only difference between adult crimes and juvenile crimes is that juvenile crimes are committed by minors and are therefore processed and dealt with differently.

In Florida, the juvenile court system is focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment. This means that the consequences of juvenile crimes are usually centered on helping the child receive the guidance they need to become active and fully functioning members of society. 

But while the juvenile justice system may mean well, it does not always serve in a young person’s best interest. Criminal records can set up kids for problems later in life, so it is important to ensure they get a fair shake when put before the law. That is where our team at Mike G Law comes in to help.

What happens when a child commits a crime in Florida?

When a youth commits a crime in Florida, the first step is contact with law enforcement or a civil citation. Then, the child is taken into custody rather than arrested (as would be the case for an adult). They will then be escorted to a Juvenile Assessment Center.

At this point, there are a few different paths that the case might take. Your child may: 

  • Be referred to a diversion program
  • Be classified as ‘low-risk’ and placed on a Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) program to avoid being detained
  • Undergo Detention Risk Assessment Instrument (DRAI) to decide on detention

If your child is detained, Florida Statute 985.255 indicates that they must be granted a court hearing after 24 hours. At that hearing, court officials will decide whether the juvenile requires further detention.

What happens when a juvenile case goes to court?

Juvenile cases are usually handled in civil courts instead of criminal courts. The exception is if the juvenile is being charged with a serious crime. Under Florida law, possible outcomes are akin to adult criminal proceedings, meaning a minor could face probation, community service, or imprisonment. 

It is important to know that minors (under the age of 18) do not have the same protections as adults in defending themselves against false or exaggerated accusations. In the juvenile courts, a judge hears all cases, but there are no trials by jury.  

When a juvenile case goes to trial, there are three possible outcomes:

    1. The case can be dropped, meaning that the prosecution has decided that the case does not need pursuing any further. 
    2. Adjudication is withheld. This means that while there may be sufficient evidence to deem the youth guilty, they won’t be formally convicted, but they are given probation. In this case, the child will likely be assigned a Juvenile Probation Officer to create a Youth-Empowered Success (YES) plan.
    3. The juvenile is adjudicated. If a child is found guilty, they will be adjudicated, meaning they have been found guilty of the charge held against them. After a child is adjudicated, the judge will determine a consequence, which may include placement in a group home or institution, community service, probation, etc.

Can minors be tried as adults?

It is complicated, but the short answer is yes, sometimes minors may be tried as adults under Florida law.

Florida law requires juvenile offenders to be tried as adults in the case of certain serious felonies. As stated in Statute 985.56 of the Florida legal code, if a youth is found guilty of a crime that is normally punishable by life in prison or the death penalty, they can be sentenced in the same way as an adult offender. 

If a child’s case is sent to adult criminal court, this may happen through an indictment, waiver, or direct file. If this does happen, the minor involved may be tried as an adult for the offense committed.

Juvenile Offenses We Can Help You With 

At Mike G Law, we understand that this can be difficult for you and your family and want you to know that we are ready to fight for you. We are committed to representing all those accused of juvenile crimes such as: 

  • Underage drinking/DUI
  • Traffic offenses
  • Assault
  • Arson
  • Robbery and burglary
  • Drug Possession 
  • Sexual assault/battery
  • Theft-related offenses

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should give you an idea of the kind of cases our expert team regularly deals with. No matter the charge, you and your family will only find respect from the team here at Mike G Law.

Why You Need an Experienced Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer

If your child is facing charges in Florida, you need an experienced juvenile criminal defense lawyer on your family’s side.

Here at Mike G, we make sure your child’s rights are never violated by the courts and work tirelessly to get them a fair outcome. We also guide you through every step of the process so that you understand the system, how to prepare, and what to expect.

Our team is highly experienced in the Florida juvenile court system, so we know how the process works and how to best represent your child. You can trust that Mike G Law has your family’s best interests in mind.

Schedule Your Free Consultation Today 

We know this can be an overwhelming time for parents and children. That is why we offer a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case and lay out an action plan.

If your child has been arrested for a crime in Florida, click here to schedule a free case consultation. Getting proper representation as early as possible can make a real difference in your child’s future, so reach out today.