Like adults, minors have the right to consult an attorney to help them navigate the criminal justice system and represent them during proceedings if they are involved in a criminal investigation. If law enforcement has detained your child or accused him of a crime, tell the officers that your child will not speak to anyone until he has spoken with a lawyer. Exercising these Constitutional rights can protect your child’s best interests and ensure your family knows how to handle the circumstances.
Contact Goldman Wetzel and speak to one of our juvenile defense lawyers in Bradenton today. After discussing the basics of the case, we can explain your legal options and your next steps. Call 941-405-5193 for a free consult.
Does Goldman Wetzel Accept Juvenile Cases in Bradenton?
Yes, our attorneys represent both adult and minor defendants in and around Bradenton. With over 30 years of combined experience, our team has the skills and resources to assist with any type of juvenile criminal case. Below are a few examples of common juvenile offenses with which we can help defend:
- Marijuana and other types of drug possession
- Tobacco- and alcohol-related offenses (fake IDs, underage drinking, driving under the influence, etc.)
- Assault or battery
- Larceny and shoplifting
- Curfew violations
- Disorderly conduct
- Vandalism and trespassing
- Criminal mischief
Do Youth Go Through the Same Justice Process as Adults?
There are various similarities between the Juvenile Justice System (JJS) and the adult criminal justice system. There are still arrests, a court process, discovery, plea bargains, probation and other punishments, etc., albeit with different terminology.
However, there are marked differences, as well. Most notably, the JJS focuses more on rehabilitation rather than punishment. This means that the state often opts for avenues such as diversion programs, probation, and community service over jail time.
You can review the basic JJS process on the Florida Department of Justice’s website. Below is a simplified rundown:
- Contact with Law Enforcement: The minor has a run-in with the law and is taken into custody (arrested) for an alleged act of delinquency (criminal offense).
- Officials Decide on Case Route: The authorities will decide which avenue to take with the case, given the preliminary facts. Options include moving the case to a standard juvenile adjudicatory hearing, transferring the case to adult court, or alternative paths such as a diversion program.
- Officials Determine Holding Location: If officials move the case towards a hearing, an agent will screen the minor using a tool called the Detention Risk Assessment Instrument (DRAI). If the state determines the minor is high-risk, it might hold him at a detention center until the hearing. Otherwise, the minor can remain at home until the hearing date.
- Detained Youth Attend Hearing: If the state holds the minor at a detention facility, he will appear before a judge who will decide whether to continue to hold the defendant or allow him to return home until the adjudicatory hearing.
- Parties Participate in Pre-trial Preparations: The minor’s attorney and the state will perform several steps while preparing for the hearing. This includes attending the arraignment, participating in discovery, conducting an investigation, and negotiating to settle the case.
- Court Determines Outcome: Lastly, the judge will hear all the evidence and determine the outcome of the case (if the defense attorney and prosecutor have not settled the case beforehand).
The sooner you can involve a defense lawyer in your child’s case, the more time and options we have for a better outcome. For instance, if you enlist our help early on, our attorneys may be able to sway the state to not file charges or to at least to file reduced charges. We can also represent your child at the initial hearing and the arraignment to protect his best interests. Contact us today for assistance.
What Types of Penalties Does a Minor Face for Delinquency?
If the state decides to move your child’s case to the adult system, he will likely face the same potential penalties for the offense as any adult would. This typically occurs when the defendant is a repeat offender or when the offense is serious or violent.
If the case stays within the JSS, however, there are several potential outcomes. The penalties your child faces depend on the offense and specifics of the situation, but below are a few ways the case may conclude:
- The judge may “withhold adjudication” and sentence the minor to probation (called the “YES plan”).
- The youth may participate in a diversion program, such as the Juvenile Arbitration Program, the Juvenile Diversion Alternative Program (JDAP), or the Walker Plan.
- The judge may order the minor to serve time in a detention facility.
Note: Not all diversion programs will be right for your child. There are pros and cons to each option. It is critical to speak to an attorney before making any decisions about the case to avoid unnecessary, negative long-term repercussions.
How Can Goldman Wetzel Help with My Child’s Case?
Our attorneys can explain what your child’s options are and what to expect throughout the duration of the JJS process. We will keep your family privy to the progression of the case and explain factors you probably have not considered, like the charges triggering a school suspension or expulsion, the possibility of parental liability, and opting for private counseling or substance abuse treatment over a state program.
Even when the offense is relatively minor, your child should understand the lasting impact of having a criminal record. We can inform you of the available legal options and counsel you on what you can do to protect your child’s future. While diversion programs offer benefits, there are also downsides, and we will explain the consequences of each, so you and your child can make informed decisions.
We will work diligently to either get the State Attorney’s Office to drop the charges, permit your child to enter a diversion program, or reduce the charges.
Our attorneys Summer Goldman and Maribeth Wetzel will both work with your child each step of the way, providing the legal advice and representation necessary to safeguard your child’s rights and exit the JSS as quickly as possible.
Call Goldman Wetzel to Talk to a Juvenile Defense Lawyer Today.
For a free one-on-one consultation with a juvenile defense lawyer in Bradenton, call Goldman Wetzel at 941-405-5193.