Juvenile Defense Lawyer in Sarasota

Many youths find themselves swept up in the criminal justice system for varying types of defenses, from shoplifting to drug charges. Juvenile cases are particularly sensitive because they involve young people who have not had a chance to fulfill their potential. Families often benefit from having a defense attorney swiftly intervene to help them understand the minor’s rights, how the court process works, and what steps to take to improve the chances of a positive outcome.

If law enforcement has accused your child of a crime or already taken him into custody, call the juvenile defense lawyers in Sarasota at Goldman Wetzel for legal assistance. We can explain what your legal options are and how to best protect your child’s future. Contact us at 941-405-5193 today to speak to our team.

What Types of Juvenile Cases Does Goldman Wetzel Accept?

While the juvenile criminal justice system and penalties differ from the adult system, minors can get still charged with the same types of crimes as adults. Our defense lawyers can facilitate any juvenile case, including those involving misdemeanors or felonies.

Some of the most common offenses in juvenile cases include:

  • Theft/larceny
  • Drug possession
  • Assault and battery
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Curfew violations and truancy
  • Vandalism and trespassing
  • Underage alcohol-related crimes
  • Harassment
  • Traffic violations
  • False reporting

How Does the Juvenile Justice System Differ from the Adult System?

The Juvenile Justice System (JJS) differs from the adult criminal justice system in several ways:

  • Terminology: You will not hear terms such as “arrest”, “crimes,” or “probation” in juvenile court, but rather “taken into custody,” “acts of delinquency,” and “the YES Plan.”
  • Focus: Both systems aim to deter future crime, but the methodology differs. While the adult system focuses on punishment, the JJS focuses on rehabilitation.
  • Case Processing: The state tends to process most juvenile cases on a shorter timeline than adult cases; and there are several steps in the JJS process that differ from the process for adult defendants.
  • Punishment: The penalties for juveniles differ from those for adults, unless the state transfers the case to adult court. Many juvenile cases involve diversion programs, community service, and comparatively short-term detainment.

Will the State Detain My Child at a Juvenile Facility?

The state handles juvenile delinquency on a case-by-case basis. The state will detain some minors at a local facility, while it may allow others to return home. Generally, after law enforcement takes a minor into custody, officials decide which of the following three approaches to take with the case:

1) Proceed with the charges and move the case towards a standard juvenile adjudicatory hearing (non-jury trial);

2) Direct file the case to adult court (charging a minor as an adult usually only occurs with serious offenses or repeat offenders); or

3) Apply for an alternative rehabilitation route, such as a diversion program.

If the state schedules an adjudicatory hearing for the minor, the youth will undergo an assessment called the “Detention Risk Assessment Instrument” or DRAI, performed by a state-approved agent. The DRAI will indicate whether detainment is necessary while awaiting the hearing. Low-risk juvenile defendants can often bypass detainment and remain at home until the hearing.

My Child is Facing Charges. What Issues Should I Be Aware of?

As juvenile defense attorneys, we know how upset and anxious parents get when their child violates a law and gets caught up in the system. We are here to answer any questions you may have. Call us at 941-405-5193 for a free consultation.

Regardless of what kinds of offenses your child has been accused of, there are a few things you should know:

  • Long-term Repercussions: Youths still face severe consequences for delinquent acts, especially if the state direct files the case in adult court. Your child may end up with a permanent criminal record which could impede future education and employment opportunities.
  • Defense Strategies: There are various effective defense strategies we can use to improve the potential outcome of a juvenile case. Even though the legal system seems cold and confusing, families involved in the JJS should not lose hope. After reviewing your child’s case, we can discuss the available options with your family.
  • Parental Liability: Like many states, Florida holds parents liable for their child’s delinquent behavior in certain instances, such as vandalism and theft. Florida Statute § 741.24 provides that a party can hold a parent financially liable for damages when the minor “maliciously or willfully destroys or steals property, real, personal, or mixed.” Note: any civil suits parents may face for their child’s actions are separate from the minor’s juvenile delinquency case.

How Can Goldman Wetzel Help with a Juvenile Criminal Case?

Our team of juvenile defense lawyers can serve as your child’s advocate and help your family through the entire justice process, from initial contact with law enforcement to trial. Attorneys Summer Goldman and Maribeth Wetzel will work together, carefully strategize your case, and represent your child at all formal appearances, such as pre-trial hearings and at the adjudicatory hearing or trial. We will provide the individualized legal advice and aggressive representation your child needs when involved in the JSS.

We will explore options, gather information and evidence, and develop a solid plan of action for your child’s particular situation. Perhaps we can expose flaws in the prosecutor’s case or present data that sways the state to drop the case altogether or at least opt for a diversion program. In certain cases, we may be able to file motions to suppress or dismiss evidence, expose weaknesses in the state’s case, and take other appropriate measures to improve the outcome.

Call for a Free Consult with a Juvenile Defense Lawyer in Sarasota.

Let us help protect your child’s future and provide the legal support your family needs when your child is facing criminal charges. Contact the Goldman Wetzel team at 941-405-5193 and request a free consultation with a juvenile defense attorney in Sarasota today.