Juvenile Offenses

The Florida juvenile justice system is weighted towards making an impression on the juvenile offender so that he or she understands the consequences of risky actions with the aim of preventing further misbehaviors, rather than just punishing the offense outright. This rehabilitative approach to prevent repeat offenders in the juvenile and adult system, however, is generally for first-time offenders.

Second and repeat offenses have increasingly higher penalties that may include jail time, increased fines, and revocation of the juvenile’s driver’s license until age 21 when applicable. Juvenile convictions can and will negatively affect your child’s future, including college acceptance, scholarship and internship applications, and job offers. An experienced Hernando, Citrus, and Sumter County defense attorney can fight to protect your child’s rights and future by quickly implementing a proactive defense strategy to minimize the impact of the offense.

Brooksville Juvenile Defense Lawyer

Watching your child go through the Florida juvenile justice system can be hard to accept, especially when most parents would like to believe their child is good and innocent. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney serving the Hernando County area like Ashley Aulls at your side can ease the stress. Ashley Aulls believes in the education of both his juvenile clients and their parents or guardians on the offense and justice process, as well as keeping communication lines opens for questions or concerns. Ashley Aulls knows what it takes to win a case or highlight mitigating circumstances to achieve a favorable outcome.

If your child has been taken into custody for juvenile delinquency in Brooksville, Weeki Wachee, High Point, Hernando Beach, Hill ‘n Dale, Inverness Highlands, Sugarmill Woods, Lecanto, Wildwood, Lake Panasoffkee, Bushnell, or the surrounding areas in Hernando County, Citrus County, or Sumter County, contact The Law Office of Ashley Aulls, P.A.. Call (352) 593-4115 today to schedule your first consultation with Brooksville defense attorney Ashley Aulls.

Information Center for Florida Juvenile Offenses

Florida Juvenile Justice System

Any offender under the age of 18 is the Florida definition of a juvenile delinquency offense in lieu of an adult misdemeanor or felony offense for the commission of a crime. Since your child doesn’t have the same rights as an adult, the Florida criminal process for a juvenile is very different from the adult system. Upon the arrest for a juvenile delinquency, a Florida law enforcement agency may take one of three steps:

  • Take the alleged juvenile delinquent to the  JAC, or Juvenile Assessment Center, to determine if he or she needs to be detained and/or for intake,
  • Release the minor into the care of their parent or other legal guardian and forward the charges to the court, or
  • Release said minor to the care of the parent or other legal guardian with a referral to a diversion program.

As the intake process begins, the JPO (Juvenile Probation Officer) will initiate proceedings with an interview that includes both the juvenile and is or her family to set up a plan or course of action in order to address the offense. The plan created by the JPO and the minor’s family will vary based on the nature of the offense, the risk to the community the minor represents, needs the juvenile may have such as addiction, and any damages that resulted from the offense. An experienced Brooksville juvenile defense lawyer can help you and the JPO find a favorable solution that protects both your child’s future and addresses his or her needs.

Upon completion of the juvenile’s customized plan, the JPO will make a recommendation to either go to the state attorney to formally charge and prosecute the minor, or permit the minor to enroll in a diversion program. If the Juvenile Probation Officer recommends the juvenile to attend a pre-trail diversion program, a signature by both the juvenile delinquent and guardian will be needed for a waiver of speedy trail agreement. This agreement states that the juvenile offender waives his or her right to a speedy trail and agrees to complete all requirements of the diversion program.

In extreme felony cases, the juvenile offender may be tried as an adult (18 or older) in court and sentenced as an adult. No matter what the circumstances surrounding your child’s case are, it is strongly advised you seek the counsel of an experienced and compassionate Spring Hill criminal defense lawyer who serves juvenile offenders in order to effectively guide the case through the Florida juvenile justice system.

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Common Juvenile Offenses in Florida

  • Underage Possession of Alcohol: Fla. Stat. § 562.111 –  One of the most common offenses among juveniles is underage possession of alcohol, also known as minor in Possession or MIP. If your child is under 21 and found to be in possession of alcohol, it is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and up to $1,000 fine. A six month to one year driver’s license suspension will also be imposed. 
  • Juvenile Possession of Drugs: Fla. Stat. § 893.13 – Another really common offense among youthful offenders is the possession of drugs. According to Florida law, it is illegal to possess a controlled substance without a valid prescription from a doctor or other medical professional. This includes illicit substances like marijuana, which is also known as pot, weed, ganja, bud, hydro, and chronic. This offense is either a first-degree misdemeanor or third-degree felony, depending on the amount and the substance, and is punishable by up to one to five years of detention and up to a $1,000-$5,000 fine, depending on the charge. A driver’s license suspension may also be imposed.
  • Criminal Mischief: Fla. Stat. § 806.13 – Also known as vandalism, this offense includes acts of graffiti and is defined as any time a person willfully and maliciously injures or damages any means of public or personal property. The degree of offense and the resulting penalties vary according to how much damage was done. In addition to the statutory penalties, a minor will also be required to pay an additional $250 fine for a first graffiti offense, complete 40 hours of general community service, and perform at least 100 hours of community service removing graffiti. Note that the parent or legal guardian will also be liable for any fines assessed. A driver’s license suspension will also be assessed based on the following:
    • One year for a minor with a license
    • For a minor without a license, a one-year waiting period from the date he or she is eligible for a driver’s license will be applied
  • Possession of a Fake ID: Fla. Stat. § 322.212 – Possession of fake I.D.s by juveniles is a common way for minors to purchase things they are not yet eligible for, such as cigarettes or alcohol, and is therefore commonly associated with underage possession of alcohol. In Florida, it is a third-degree felony to knowingly have in his possession and/or display a blank, forged, stolen, fictitious, counterfeit, or unlawfully issued driver’s license or state-issued identification card. This offense is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
  • Zero-Tolerance DUI: Fla. Stat. §§ 316.93 & 322.2616 – Under general Florida DUI law, it is unlawful for any person to be driving or in actual physical control of any vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances, or inhalants, or while having a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of.08. However, Florida is a zero-tolerance state when it comes to minors who commit DUI, and the legal limit for juveniles is therefore .02. First DUI is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of $500-$1,000, with a driver’s license suspension of six months that can’t be served along with any imprisonment. For a minor with a BAC of .05 or higher, he or she will have his or her license suspended until he or she has completed a DUI substance abuse course.
  • Juvenile Sex Offenses: Fla. Stat. §§ 797.067, 800.02-800.34 & 800.09: There are many types of sex offenses in Florida, including sexual assault, sexual battery or rape, and lewd conduct. A juvenile may generally be charged with any sex crime considered an offense under the Florida Statutes. However, the sex crimes more frequently associated with juveniles includes indecent exposure, lewd or lascivious conduct by a minor, and prostitution. The penalties will vary according to the offense, though most sex offenses are felonies.

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Sentencing Alternatives for Hernando County Juveniles

Due to its rehabilitative approach for first-time juvenile offenders, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice may have an alternative to prosecution and sentencing that could be recommended by the JPO, such as a juvenile diversion program. In order for the juvenile offender to enter a diversion program, the state prosecutor must approve the admittance into the program. Both the parent or guardian and the minor must sign a waiver to waive their right to a speedy trail, and the juvenile will then be required to complete all requirements of the program

To avoid further judicial action and to have his or her charges dismissed, the minor must successfully complete the diversion program with no further violations. Failure to complete the requirements will result in the state attorney filing a petition to formally charge the youth. An experienced Homosassa Springs juvenile defense lawyer will be able to advocate for your child’s entrance into the program, as well as mediate any alleged violations, if they occur.

One of the pretrial diversion programs available for juvenile offenders in Hernando County is Youth Court, for minors between the ages of 10-17. Teen court and youth court programs are essentially diversion programs for juvenile offenders, like those in the Brooksville area, to learn from their mistakes while paying their debt to society. Hernando County Youth Court participants also learn about the judicial system in Florida and the career opportunities of the court.

Generally, in order to be accepted into youth court, the juvenile offender must plead guilty before a jury of other teens and accept whatever punishment the court sets down. Possible punishments can include one or more of the following:

  • Mandatory Counseling
  • Repayment of fines and/or restitution
  • The writing of a detailed essay or apology letter
  • Community service

In certain cases, formal charges for your juvenile’s offense will still be filed by the state attorney, but the JPO and your experienced Spring Hill defense lawyer can recommend sentencing guidelines such as probation, residential commitment (house arrest) or placement in a specific correctional facility. If probation is decided, the juvenile will likely have to plead guilty to the offense and complete certain conditions and requirements, including refraining from committing certain acts.

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Resources for Hernando County Juvenile Offenses

Hernando County Youth Court – This teen court in Hernando County is a pretrial diversion program run by youth, for youthful offenders between the ages of 10 and 17. Juvenile offenders in the Youth Court learn all about the criminal justice system, while also exploring career opportunities both in the court and through the community service they performed. The Hernando County Youth Court is located at:

20 N Main Street, Room 219
Brooksville, FL 34601
(352) 540-6263

FJJA – Florida Juvenile Justice Association – The FJJA is a Florida-wide organization in support of an approach to juvenile justice that treats our youth fairly, holds them accountable for their criminal actions, and keeps Florida communities safe. In addition to advocating an working for Florida’s juvenile justice system, the FJJA works with at-risk youth.

Florida Department of Juvenile Justice – The FDJJ is the state governmental agency for the juvenile justice system in Florida. Dedicated to the wellbeing of Florida’s youth, the FDJJ provides education, outreach, and early intervention. Follow this link to the FDJJ’s community resource page, where you can locate resources available to your child in your community.

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The Law Office of Ashley Aulls, P.A. | Defense Attorney for Hernando County Juvenile Delinquents

If your child is facing criminal charges for an offense allegedly committed in Hernando County, Citrus County, Sumter County, or Pasco County, contact experienced and compassionate Brooksville criminal defense lawyer Ashley Aulls. He will educate you and your child on the juvenile offense, ease your fears, and fight for a favorable outcome in the juvenile delinquency case. To schedule your initial case consultation with The Law Office of Ashley Aulls, P.A., call (352) 593-4115 today.