According to Broward criminal lawyer William R. Moore, Juveniles are consistently treated differently than adults by our criminal justice system. Offenses alleged to have been committed by juveniles are labeled as “deliquent” acts, rather than criminal acts, in Florida and in many other states. Juveniles are not entitled to jury trials, unlike adults, but may be sentenced to probation or confinement in a secure juvenile program depending on the offense, the child’s prior record, and other factors. Children still have the right to a trial, but only before a judge. Diversionary programs, including community service and drug court, are sometimes available to juveniles who have been arrested in lieu of going to trial or accepting a plea deal, states Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer William R. Moore.
Direct file is the exception to the deliquency system. In certain cases, a prosecutor may file the charge directly in the adult criminal court rather than in the juvenile court. This procedure is generally reserved for juveniles who have very serious prior records, who have previously been placed in intensive juvenile programs, who are older teenagers, or who are accused of committing particularly serious acts, such as murder, according to Broward juvenile criminal attorney William R. Moore.
The police must treat juveniles differently in some respects than they treat adults. When they are taken into custody, juveniles have to be held separately from adult defendants. Notice must be provided to the child’s parents and the child, if he or she is going to be held in custody, will be transported to the detention facility operated by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. In many cases, the child will be released on a monitoring program, but will have to abide by certain rules. For example, a teenager may be given an 8:00 p.m. curfew. If the state holds the juvenile in custody, the child has the opportunity to appear before a judge within 24 hours of arrest. In the event that the judge orders the child to remain in custody, the juvenile will be detained in a secure detention facility with other minors pending resolution of the case. Many juveniles will opt for a trial, which is usually faster than criminal court trials, in part because there is no jury. The juvenile can testify and can call other witnesses in his or her defense, and is entitled to discovery — the evidence the state intends to use against the juvenile at trial.
Broward County criminal lawyer William R. Moore has years of experience in criminal defense, including sex crimes and DUI. A felony or misdemeanor conviction of any type can have far-reaching consequences on your freedom, your employment, and your personal life. If you have been arrested in south Florida, contact Broward County Criminal Defense Attorney William R. Moore, P.A., with offices in Fort Lauderdale-Dade, Broward, and Fort Lauderdale Counties.