juvenile crime lawyers

Juvenile Crime Attorneys With Experience

A juvenile arrest in the state of Florida can be devastating for a family.  If your child has been arrested for a crime in central Florida, call the juvenile crime attorneys at the Law Offices of Powers Sellers & Finkelstein, PLC to schedule a free consultation.  The juvenile defense attorneys at our office are highly trained and experienced trial attorneys who are dedicated to defending the rights of children who have been arrested.

Juvenile charges must be taken seriously

Most people do not realize that juvenile charges are very serious.  The way a 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.  It is important to know that children have constitutional rights when it comes to defending their criminal cases.  All aspects of the case must be examined to determine whether your child has any defenses and/or motions or legal reasons that justify a dismissal.  Additionally, it is important for parents to become educated about the various programs that are available to their children and how they can become involved in those programs.

Juvenile process:

If your child has been arrested or cited by a law enforcement officer whether it was while in school or in the community, it is important to act fast.  The charges may soon be brought to the attention of the prosecuting agency.  Our experienced juvenile crime attorneys can become involved early to provide information to the prosecuting agency that may help significantly reduce the charges or help to avoid former prosecution.

Depending on the nature of the contact with law enforcement, your child may be taken into the juvenile assessment center where it will be determined whether it is necessary for the child to be held for a longer period of time in the juvenile detention center.  Your child will have a hearing within 24 hours of being taken into custody.  Our juvenile crime attorneys will request for your child to be released from the detention center pending any criminal juvenile prosecution.

Unfortunately, some juvenile charges may be filed in adult criminal court.  Our juvenile crime attorneys will make your child’s future our priority.  Adult criminal court can be very stressful for a child so we will work hard to prevent this from happening.  Our attorneys are experienced in dealing with the juvenile process.  Ultimately, it is our goal to avoid the arms of the criminal system for kids and encourage a private resolution.  The attorneys at the Law Offices of Powers Sellers & Finkelstein have experience with mental health and behavioral programs that may be available to your child.  Getting an experienced attorney involved early on in the juvenile process can reduce the impact the experience may have on your child’s future.

Types of juvenile programs:

There are programs available for juvenile offenders.  The type of program available depends on the child’s criminal history, the type of offense and the specific needs of the child.

  • Juvenile arbitration program – This program is available to first time offenders who have been arrested for a misdemeanor.  If the child successfully completes this program, the charges are dismissed.
  • S.T.O.P. (Service and treatment for offender prevention) – This program is available to repeat misdemeanor violators and children charged with third degree felonies.  The program involves specific conditions the juvenile must complete such as counseling, community service, employment and/or required school attendance.
  • Juvenile drug court program – This program is available to juveniles with misdemeanor and/or felony charges whose charges suggest the child is involved with some type of drug use/abuse.  Drug treatment and random urine tests are common conditions of this program.
  • Teen court – Teen court is a program that targets children who have shown a pattern of criminal behavior.  There are two types of teen court programs: Traffic (for traffic offenders) and truancy (for children who have excessive absences from school).

The types of programs may vary from county to county.  However, most counties in the state of Florida have some version of the programs discussed above.

Call the juvenile defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Powers Sellers & Finkelstein, PLC today to see how we can help.  (727) 531-2926 or 1-855-PSF-Firm.  We defend juvenile cases in Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough and surrounding counties.

JUVENILE ARRESTS FAQ’S

Should I hire an attorney for my child?

If your child has been arrested or is under investigation, it is imperative the he or she have an attorney.  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 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 any and 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.

Can my child go to prison?

Juveniles who are charged and convicted of a crime in juvenile court may be ordered to a program.  There are different programs for children based on their level of risk.  Some children may be ordered to other conditions in lieu of a program such as home detention or community service.  Children who are charged as adults may face significant prison time regardless of their ages.  The factors that determine whether a child is charged as an adult may include their age, their prior criminal record and/or the nature of the crime charged.

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 depends 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 with regard to 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 evidenced are relaxed but still exist.

Always be prepared and know your rights and the rights of your child.  It is crucial to exercise extreme caution through the resolution of a juvenile’s criminal case because of the impact the disposition (sentence) may have on his or her future.


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