Juvenile law is different from adult criminal law for many reasons. The goal here is not punishment, but rather rehabilitation. The courts are careful not to place a stigma or label on the juveniles. This is why different terms are used in juvenile court. Instead of “Defendant,” they use the word, “Child.” Instead of “Guilty,” the child may be found “Delinquent,” and so on. There is no constitutional right to a jury trial for juveniles. Their cases will be held before a judge only.
The Department of Juvenile Justice is involved in every case and makes a recommendation to the court for sentencing. Additionally, the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure are not used. Instead, the juvenile courts use the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure which vary drastically.
There are specific rules regarding the detention of juveniles awaiting trial. If your Child has been arrested, your Child will appear before a judge within 24 hours to determine whether the Child shall remain in secured detention (“custody”) or released. This hearing is what is known as a detention hearing. This determination is made by a Detention risk Assessment Instrument (DRAI) prepared by the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). As of July 2019, the DRAI has been amended to account for the Child’s right to counsel, allegations of abuse, prior contact with DJJ, and the State Attorney’s recommendation of release, among other things. Ensuring that your Child is represented at the detention hearing could be important in whether your child is detained or released.
It is important not to delay in hiring experienced representation. Attorney Brandon Gans is a former juvenile prosecutor. Prior to that he worked with the Department of Juvenile Justice. Attorney Gans is knowledgeable in the juvenile rules and is aware of possible outcomes such as diversion programs, probation, and commitment programs.