When minors are accused of a crime or “act of delinquency,” the state will usually handle the case through the Juvenile Justice System (JJS) rather than the adult Criminal Justice System. The JJS focuses more on rehabilitation than punishment, but juvenile offenses can still have serious repercussions, such as a criminal record, time in a detention center, and problems with college entry and career opportunities later down the road.
If your child has been recently detained or accused of a crime, call our juvenile defense lawyers in Tampa. We can help you and your child navigate the system, walk you through the process, and serve as your family’s advocate during the proceedings. Call 888-727-4652 for a free consultation today.
What Types of Juvenile Cases Does Goldman Wetzel Accept?
Our firm can facilitate all types of juvenile cases, from truancy to violent offenses. Our lawyers will explain what the alleged offenses are, what to expect during each phase of the case, and what your legal options are. Some of the most common juvenile cases we manage involve:
- Criminal trespass
- Assault and battery
- Curfew violations
- Underage drinking
- Traffic violations and DUIs
- Drug possession
- Possession of a fake ID
- Criminal mischief (i.e., vandalism)
- Theft, shoplifting, and burglary
- Sex crimes
My Child Has Been Arrested. What Happens Next?
The juvenile justice process is typically shorter than that of the adult system, but it is still somewhat complex and confusing. Generally, juvenile cases in Florida will travel through the following steps:
Taken into Custody: Law enforcement takes the minor into custody for a delinquent act.
Determination of Case Route: Officials will determine one of three approaches to take with the case: 1) Move to a standard juvenile adjudicatory hearing (non-jury trial), 2) Move to adult court, or 3) Opt for an alternative route such as a diversion program.
Screening: If the minor must proceed to hearing, a state-approved agent will perform a Detention Risk Assessment Instrument (DRAI) to determine whether the state should detain the minor at a detention center or whether the minor should remain at home while awaiting the hearing.
Detention Hearing: After the completing the DRAI, if the agent determines the minor to be high-risk, the authorities will temporarily keep the minor at the detention facility. Within 24 hours of law enforcement taking the youth into custody, he will appear before a judge who will decide whether to continue the youth’s detention status until the hearing.
Pre-trial: Various steps take place during the time prior to trial, including an arraignment (where the minor enters a formal plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest), discovery (where the state and the minor’s attorney collect and exchange evidence), and plea negotiations between the prosecutor and the minor’s attorney.
Conclusion: The case may end in several ways. We may be able to sway the prosecutor to drop the case, the judge may “withhold adjudication” and order the minor to participate in the Youth-Empowered Success “YES” plan (probation), or the judge may deem the minor guilty and order him to serve time in a detention facility.
Because juvenile cases process rather quickly, contact our office to discuss your case with our attorneys as soon as possible. You should understand what each stage entails, what to expect at the hearing, and the consequences of each outcome. We will work towards the best resolution possible for your child, be it a dismissal, diversion program, or mitigated penalties.
Can I Visit My Child at the Detention Center?
Yes. The state can detain minors for up to 21 days (sometimes longer if the youth violated court sanctions), during which time parents may visit during the detention center’s visiting hours. Grandparents and legal guardians can visit, as well. As your family’s defense attorneys, we are also permitted to visit your child, even outside of established visitation times if necessary.
“Visitation is an important component of a youth’s stay in detention and is encouraged and supported by detention staff,” explains the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. For more information about visiting your child who has been detained in Tampa, contact the Hillsborough Juvenile Detention Center West at 888-727-4652.
How Can Goldman Wetzel Help My Child?
To deter delinquency, the state takes juvenile cases very seriously. Our main priority is to help your family navigate the system and to fight for the best outcome possible.
After quickly assessing your child’s case, we will discuss the legal choices and begin working on a defense strategy. Depending on the situation, this might involve pushing for the state to drop or reduce the charges, convincing the judge to allow your child to stay at home while awaiting court, or getting the state to agree on a diversion program.
Not only do we serve as your family’s legal advisors and confidants, we also make ourselves available whenever you need us. The parents and minors that we work with are understandably upset and anxious, but having an aggressive defense team on your side will provide some reassurance. The information, options, and staunch representation we supply will empower your family to make smart decisions and weather the challenging legal ordeal you are facing.
Our juvenile attorneys work together on each case we accept at Goldman Wetzel, providing well-rounded, highly effective counsel and representation. We understand the importance of your child’s future and how much is on the line. Rest assured, our team will provide the same degree of determined, individualized service that we provide for adult criminal cases.
Get a Free Consultation with our Juvenile Defense Lawyers in Tampa
Per Florida Statute § 985.26(2), the state expedites hearings for juveniles held in detention, scheduling a final hearing only approximately three to four weeks after being taken into custody. This gives us little time to act. If you have yet to retain a lawyer, now is the time so we can jump into action and intercede on your child’s behalf.
Contact Goldman Wetzel today at 888-727-4652 and request a free consult with our juvenile defense lawyers in Tampa.