Juvenile Criminal Defense FAQ | Clearwater - Tampa
Most people do not realize that juvenile charges are very serious. The way a juvenile defense case is handled can have a serious impact on your child well into adulthood. Schools, employers and even branches of the military will have an interest in your child's case and how it was resolved. Our skilled juvenile defense team will conduct an in-depth case review which includes an explanation of the elements of the charge(s) and an evaluation of the facts to determine any defenses that may exist.
If you have questions related to your specific case, you can contact us 24/7 for a free case review.
Here are some common questions that our firm receives from clients involved in Juvenile Criminal Defense cases:
Should I hire an attorney for my child?
If your child has been arrested or is under investigation, it is imperative he or she has an attorney for their Juvenile Criminal Defense Case. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, your child will have the opportunity to apply for a public defender. We strongly recommend consulting an attorney before allowing law enforcement to question you or your child about pending charges or investigations.
How long can they hold my child in custody?
A juvenile may be held in a detention facility for up to 21 days. However, if the child has violated sanctions the court previously imposed, he may be held longer. If your child has been taken into custody, he will see a judge within 24 hours of arrest. At that time, the judge will determine whether it is necessary to hold the child.
The police questioned my child without me knowing, what now?
If the police questioned your child without your permission and/or without following proper protocol, there may be legal issues regarding incriminating statements that were made. An experienced juvenile defense attorney can evaluate your child's case to determine whether the actions of law enforcement were inappropriate and how those actions may or may not affect the case.
Does my child have the right to a trial?
Yes. Your child has a right to a bench trial. A bench trial is a trial by the presiding judge. The standard of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt. Your child's attorney may call witnesses and cross-examine the state's witnesses. Your child also has the right to have all pre-trial motions heard that can be filed and argued in good faith.
Will my child have a jury trial or a bench trial?
Generally, juveniles will have a bench trial. However, if the juvenile has been charged as an adult, adult rules apply and he or she will have the right to a trial by jury.
What types of programs are available?
There are many programs available for children who are in juvenile court. The types of programs vary from county to county. There are in-patient drug treatment programs, out-patient drug treatment programs and psychological services available for troubled children who have been caught up in the criminal justice system. The idea is to rehabilitate the youth while protecting the community at the same time. Additionally, there are punitive aspects to sentences such as curfews, community service, and fines. The type and duration of the program depend on the child's prior record, the nature of the current offense, and the level of risk the child poses to himself and/ or the community.
Can I be held responsible for the actions of a child?
Yes. You may be held responsible for the actions of your child both criminally and civilly. If you or your child are under investigation, seek the advice of an attorney to assist you with the process so that you can protect yourself, your child and the future of your family.
How is my child going to pay restitution?
Courts will allow payment plans. Additionally, parents may be ordered to pay restitution for the criminal acts of their children. The law is specific regarding how the state can force parents to pay restitution. Certain procedural requirements must be met prior to a legal order being enforced. It is important to note that there are also very specific laws regarding proof of restitution amounts in criminal cases. The rules of evidence are relaxed but still exist.