While I was still in law school, I interned in the Juvenile Division of
the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office. Later, when I became an Assistant
State Attorney, I spent a considerable amount of time in the Juvenile
In the State of Florida, anybody under the age of 18 can be charged with
a criminal offense. However, children arrested for criminal offenses are
sent to the Court's
Children can be charged with
as well as felonies. When a child is arrested in Miami-Dade County, they
are taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) where they are processed,
assessed by mental health professionals, and typically released to the
custody of their parents. If the accused child has a prior record, or
is charged with a serious felony such as
, or narcotics
, they may be held up to 21 days in the Juvenile Detention Center.
The goal of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate children so
that they do not end up as adult offenders. For this reason, there are
a wide array of pretrial diversion programs available. Much like adult
pretrial diversion, the charges are often dropped if the accused child
completes conditions of their program, such as classes, community service
hours, and payment of
On the other hand, children can also be charged with very serious crimes such as
, attempted murder, and carjacking. If the child is 16 or older, they will
likely be direct filed. In other words, they will be charged as adults
and their cases will be transferred out of the Juvenile Division.
Having a powerful Miami-Dade County
criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate with the State Attorney's Office in order
for juvenile sanctions to be imposed. This is a very important as initiative
taken on part of the accused may save a child from having to go to adult prison.
Juveniles are natural targets for law enforcement officers, who may perceive
children as being up to no good. Just like adults, children can be wrongly
arrested. As children can be charged with the same crimes as adults, the
same legal rights apply.
If you or your child are facing juvenile charges,