Orlando Juvenile Defense Lawyer

If your child has been charged with a juvenile offense in Orlando please contact Chris S. Boatright, P.A. at 407-740-8300 to discuss what options may be available to get your child's juvenile offense dismissed or reduced.  One way to get your child's juvenile offense dismissed is by completing a Pre-Trial Diversion program.  Not every juvenile case is eligible for a Pre-Trial Diversion program.  

Former Juvenile Prosecutor

Chris is an Orlando juvenile defense lawyer that is also a former juvenile prosecutor.  As a former juvenile prosecutor now working as an Orlando juvenile defense lawyer Chris has an understanding of what can be important to the prosecutor in your child's Orlando juvenile case.  It is important to understand how the other side works.  Chris uses this understanding to determine what needs to be done to get the best possible outcome in your childs' juvenile case. Chris has seen many lawyers who practice as an Orlando juvenile defense lawyer who advertise themselves as former prosecutors.  How many of those Orlando juvenile defense lawyers actually prosecuted juveniles for offenses in the juvenile justice system instead of just prosecuting adults in the adult criminal justice system?  Chris has prosecuted juveniles in the juvenile justice system and adults in the adult criminal justice system.  The juvenile justice system and the adult criminal justice system work differently.  Therefore, prior experience in the juvenile justice system as a prosecutor is more important than experience in the adult criminal justice system as a prosecutor.  It is important to know what and how much experience your child's Orlando juvenile defense lawyer has.  

Orlando Juvenile Defense Lawyer Since 1999

Chris has been defending children in Orlando charged with juvenile offenses since 1999.  Being an Orlando juvenile defense lawyer for so long has given Chris the opportunity to spend a lot of time working with the judges and prosecutors in Orlando that handle juvenile cases like your child's.  Experience dealing with those judges and prosecutors is important in achieving the best results in your child's case.  

Different Orlando Juvenile Defense Lawyers Get Different Results

When your child has been charged with a juvenile offense in Orlando you need an aggressive, experienced, and knowledgeable lawyer like Chris to defend your child. A record of a juvenile offense can have a negative impact on your child's future, therefore, it is important to be represented by the right lawyer.  The better prepared you and your child are for your child's court appearance the more likely it is you and your child will get a favorable outcome.  The best results possible are rarely obtained by just hoping for them.  Get the help you need at Chris S. Boatright, P.A. to get the best results possible.  

Early Involvement

Another important factor in achieving the best outcome in your child’s case can be early involvement by an Orlando juvenile defense lawyer. The prosecutor in a juvenile case usually makes a decision quickly on whether or not to file charges against the child. Early involvement allows time for Chris as your child's juvenile defense lawyer to contact the prosecutor to try to convince the prosecutor not to file charges against the child. Without this contact from your child's juvenile defense lawyer, the prosecutor will normally will make a decision on whether or not to file charges against the child based on what law enforcement says happened during the incident. Based on my experience as an Orlando juvenile defense lawyer the police report is rarely the whole story and is instead usually just a statement of why law enforcement believes the child is guilty of the offense(s). Early involvement allows for your child's juvenile defense lawyer to investigate and gather evidence in the child’s favor. This favorable evidence can be submitted to the prosecutor by Chris as your child's juvenile defense lawyer, prior to the charging decision to try to avoid charges being filed against the child.

Charged Does Not Mean Convicted

If the prosecutor does decide to file charges against the child the outcome of the case becomes an important factor in determining if the incident will affect the future of the child. Charged does not mean convicted and as your child’s lawyer I will work hard to achieve the best possible outcome in your child’s case. This includes the evaluation of your child’s case for pre-trial diversion programs and possible defenses that may result in the charges being dismissed or the penalty reduced. Children make mistakes and these mistakes should not damage their future. I have provided some information below regarding the juvenile justice system.

OVERVIEW OF THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM

Contact With A Law Enforcement Officer

A juvenile’s contact with the juvenile justice system usually begins with the juvenile coming in contact with a law enforcement officer who charges the juvenile with a violation of the law. Once the officer has charged a juvenile with a law violation the next step is for the officer to evaluate how serious the law violation is and if the juvenile needs to be arrested. If the officer elects not arrest the juvenile the officer may release the juvenile to a parent or guardian and may send the charge(s) to the Office Of the State Attorney (prosecutor) Clerk Of Court (clerk) and a Department Of Juvenile Justice Probation Officer (JPO) for the appropriate county. If the juvenile is arrested the officer will transport the juvenile to the Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) to be screened to determine the risk of the juvenile to the community and determine if continued detention is necessary. If the juvenile is arrested then the charge(s) will then be sent to the Office of the State Attorney (prosecutor) Clerk Of Court (clerk) and a Department Of Juvenile Justice Probation Officer (JPO) for the appropriate county.

Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO)

A JPO is assigned to any juvenile referred to the Department Of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) for violations of the law. Just because a juvenile is assigned a JPO it does not mean the juvenile is on probation or will be placed on probation. The JPO will make a recommendation regarding how a juvenile’s law violation should be handled which may ranged from a diversion program, supervised probation or commitment to a residential program.

Pre-Trial Diversion Programs 

The Office of the State Attorney in Orange County, Florida offers five different diversion programs for juveniles. These programs are for first time less serious offenders. The programs give juveniles an opportunity to get their charges dismissed if they successfully complete the program. If the juvenile does not successfully complete the program then the case is returned to the State Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

TEEN COURT

Teen Court is a program that allows a juvenile to be judged and sentenced by a jury of their peers. Most of the jurors are juveniles who have been accused of violating the law themselves. In fact one of the required sanctions for an offender who participates in Teen Court is that the offender participate as a juror for two to twelve evenings for future Teen Court cases. In addition to jury service Teen Court juries also recommend community service participation as part of the offender’s sentence. The minimum recommendation is fifteen hours of community service and the maximum recommendation is one hundred hours of community service. Additional sanctions that may be recommended by a Teen Court jury include drug testing, counseling, letters of apology, essays, restitution, mentorship and boot camp. The Teen Court program is for juveniles who are twelve to eighteen years of age. If the juvenile successfully completes the Teen Court program sentence then the charge(s) are dismissed. If the juvenile does not successfully complete the Teen Court program sentence then the case is returned to the State Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

DRUG COURT

The Drug Court program is designed for juveniles who are involved with drugs. The juvenile does not have to be charged a drug offense like possession of illegal drugs to participate in the Drug Court program. For instance a juvenile may be charged with theft when the theft was for money to get drugs. The Drug Court program involves intensive counseling and random drug testing. A juvenile in the Drug Court program is given progressive sanctions for refused or failed drug tests and for failing to comply with the program requirements. The Drug Court program usually takes up to six months to complete. Juveniles from fourteen to eighteen years of age are usually the focus of the Drug Court program. If the juvenile successfully completes the Drug Court program then the charge(s) are dismissed. If the juvenile does not successfully complete the Drug Court program then the case is returned to the State Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

JUVENILE DIVERSION ALTERNATIVE PROGRAM (JDAP)

This is a counseling intensive program that also contains a domestic violence component. This program is focused on juveniles sixteen years of age and younger. If the juvenile successfully completes the JDAP program then the charge(s) are dismissed. If the juvenile does not successfully complete the JDAP program then the case is returned to the State Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

NEIGHBORHOOD RESTORATIVE JUSTICE

This program is focused on youth from Apopka, Eatonville, Maitland, Ocoee and East Orange County. A neighborhood accountability board determines the best method to deal with damage that has been caused by crimes occurring in that community. If the juvenile successfully completes the Neighborhood Restorative Justice program then the charge(s) are dismissed. If the juvenile does not successfully complete the Neighborhood Restorative Justice program then the case is returned to the State Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

LADIES FIRST & MAN UP

This program is focused on helping juveniles pursue healthy alternatives to poor behavior. The program is available for juveniles who are ten to eighteen years of age. If the juvenile successfully completes the Ladies First & MAN UP program then the charge(s) are dismissed. If the juvenile does not successfully complete the Ladies First & MAN UP program then the case is returned to the State Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

Civil Citation

A civil citation is a way to provide a juvenile who commits a first time misdemeanor offense with an opportunity to avoid further involvement with the juvenile justice system. A civil citation requires a juvenile to perform up to fifty hours of community service and the juvenile must participate in intervention services based on the needs of the juvenile. Intervention services may include drug testing, substance abuse treatment, counseling and/or mental health services. A civil citation also can require a juvenile to write a letter of apology to the victim(s) and pay restitution. If the juvenile does not complete the civil citation requirements the juvenile will be referred to the Office of the State Attorney (prosecutor) for possible prosecution.

Notice to Appear

FLORIDA RULE OF JUVENILE PROCEDURE 8.045: NOTICE TO APPEAR

(a) Definition. A notice to appear, unless indicated otherwise, means a written order issued by a law enforcement officer or authorized agent of the department, in lieu of taking a child into custody or detaining a child, which requires a child accused of violating the law to appear in a designated court or governmental office at a specified date and time.

(b) By Arresting Officer. If a child is taken into custody for a violation of law and the officer elects to release the child as provided by law to a parent, responsible adult relative, or legal guardian, a notice to appear may be issued to the child by the officer unless:

(1) the child fails or refuses to sufficiently identify himself or herself or supply the required information;

(2) the child refuses to sign the notice to appear;

(3) the officer has reason to believe that the continued liberty of the child constitutes an unreasonable risk of bodily injury to the child or others;

(4) the child has no ties with the jurisdiction reasonably sufficient to ensure an appearance or there is substantial risk that the child will refuse to respond to the notice;

(5) the officer has any suspicion that the child may be wanted in any jurisdiction; or

(6) it appears that the child has previously failed to respond to a notice or a summons or has violated the conditions of any pretrial release program. 

(c) By Departmental Agent. If a child is taken into custody by an authorized agent of the department as provided by law, or if an authorized agent of the department takes custody of a child from a law enforcement officer and the child is not detained, the agent shall issue a notice to appear to the child upon the child’s release to a parent, responsible adult relative, or legal guardian.

(d) How and When Served. If a notice to appear is issued, 6 copies shall be prepared. One copy of the notice shall be delivered to the child and 1 copy shall be delivered to the person to whom the child is released. In order to secure the child’s release, the child and the person to whom the child is released shall give their written promise that the child will appear as directed in the notice by signing the remaining copies. One copy is to be retained by the issuer and 3 copies are to be filed with the clerk of the court. 

(e) Distribution of Copies. The clerk shall deliver 1 copy of the notice to appear to the state attorney and 1 copy to the department and shall retain 1 copy in the court’s file.

(f) Contents. A notice to appear shall contain the following information:

(1) The name and address of the child and the person to whom the child was released.

(2) The date of the offense(s).

(3) The offense(s) charged by statute and municipal ordinance, if applicable.

(4) The counts of each offense.

(5) The time and place where the child is to appear.

(6) The name and address of the trial court having jurisdiction to try the offense(s) charged.

(7) The name of the arresting officer or authorized agent of the department.

(8) The signatures of the child and the person to whom the child was released.

(g) Failure to Appear. When a child signs a written notice to appear and fails to respond to the notice, an order to take into custody shall be issued. 

(h) Form of Notice. The notice to appear shall be substantially as found in form 8.930. 

Pre-Trial Diversion

The juvenile may be eligible for a pre-trial diversion program.  If the juvenile qualifies for a pre-trial diversion program and they successfully complete a pre-trial diversion program the charges will be dropped by the State Attorney’s Office.

requires a child accused of violating the law to appear in a designated court or governmental office at a specified date and time. (b) By Arresting Officer. If a child is taken into custody for a violation of law and the officer elects to release the child as provided by law to a parent, responsible adult relative, or legal guardian, a notice to appear may be issued to the child by the officer unless: (1) the child fails or refuses to sufficiently identify himself or herself or supply the required information; (2) the child refuses to sign the notice to appear; (3) the officer has reason to believe that the continued liberty of the child constitutes an unreasonable risk of bodily injury to the child or others; (4) the child has no ties with the jurisdiction reasonably sufficient to ensure an appearance or there is substantial risk that the child will refuse to respond to the notice; (5) the officer has any suspicion that the child may be wanted in any jurisdiction; or (6) it appears that the child has previously failed to respond to a notice or a summons or has violated the conditions of any pretrial release program. 

Intake Process

A Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) reviews the paperwork from the law enforcement officer or the Clerk of Court charging the juvenile with a violation of the law. Then the JPO will attempt to contact the juvenile and the parent(s) or guardian(s) of the juvenile to conduct an interview to gather information about the juvenile and the parent(s) or guardian(s). The purpose of this interview is to investigate to determine the risk the juvenile is to the community and to determine what services would most benefit the juvenile. As part of the investigation the JPO also obtains information from the complainant, the victim, school officials and any other individuals and agencies associated with the juvenile. This investigation results in a recommendation to the Office of the State Attorney (prosecutor) who then decides if prosecution of the juvenile is necessary.

Juvenile Assessment Center

When a juvenile is taken into custody by a law enforcement officer the juvenile is taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) by the officer. Once the juvenile arrives at the JAC an intake is done on the juvenile to determine if the juvenile should be released to a parent or guardian or detained pending a detention hearing. This intake is performed by a Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) using a Risk Assessment Instrument (RAI). The RAI determines if a juvenile should be detained and if so what type of detention is necessary. The two types of detention are home detention and secure detention. Home detention is like house arrest and secure detention means the juvenile remains in custody at the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC). The RAI is primarily concerned with the current charges the juvenile is facing and any previous charges against the juvenile. The RAI uses a point system to score the current charge or charges and any previous charges for the juvenile. If the juvenile scores twelve or more points then the JPO recommends secure detention for the juvenile and therefore the juvenile is held in secure detention until the juvenile has a detention hearing before a judge who may release the juvenile from secure detention to home detention or without any detention pending the outcome of the charges.

FLORIDA RULE OF JUVENILE PROCEDURE 8.005: ORDERING CHILDREN INTO CUSTODY

If a verified petition has been filed, or if, prior to the filing of a petition, an affidavit or sworn testimony is presented to the court, either of which alleges facts which under existing law are sufficient to authorize that a child be taken into custody, the court may issue an order to a person, authorized to do so, directing that the child be taken into custody.

The order shall:
(a) be in writing;
(b) specify the name and address of the child or, if unknown, designate the child by any name or description by which the child can be identified with reasonable certainty;
(c) specify the age and sex of the child or, if the child’s age is unknown, that he or she is believed to be of an age subject to the jurisdiction of the circuit court as a juvenile case;
(d) state the reasons why the child is being taken into custody;
(e) order that the child be brought immediately before the court or be taken to a place of detention designated by the court to be detained pending a detention hearing;
(f) state the date when issued and the county and court where issued; and
(g) be signed by the court with the title of office.

Detention Hearings

Once a juvenile is detained by secure detention or home detention a detention hearing must be held within 24 hours. The detention hearing is held before a judge. At the detention hearing the judge will make a determination if probable cause exists to detain the juvenile. This is an important opportunity to challenge the laws enforcement officer’s version of the facts in the juvenile’s case and establish any lack of evidence that the juvenile was involved in illegal activity. If probable cause does not exist that the juvenile was involved in illegal activity then the juvenile should be released with no further detention pending the outcome of the charges. Even if the judge releases the juvenile from detention due to a lack of probable cause at the detention hearing the State Attorney’s Office can still file charges against the juvenile. At the detention hearing the judge will consider the Risk Assessment Instrument (RAI) and any other relevant information presented at the detention hearing to determine if secure detention is necessary. If secure detention is not necessary the juvenile may be released on home detention (house arrest) or released without any detention required pending the outcome of the charges. The detention hearing is an important hearing because it is the first opportunity to convince the court that the juvenile was not involved in any illegal conduct and even if the juvenile was that the juvenile is not a danger to the community and therefore the juvenile does not need to be in secure detention or be placed on home detention. This is also an opportunity to explain to the court the positive aspects of the juvenile’s life such as no prior involvement with the juvenile justice system, good grades, never been in trouble in school before, activities such as sports and clubs and community service hours performed. Often the parent(s) or guardian(s) can advise the court of the positive aspects of the juvenile’s life. If the court does order the juvenile to continue to be detained a motion to release the juvenile can be filed by the juvenile’s attorney to request the release of the juvenile based on relevant information not presented to the judge at the detention hearing.

FLORIDA RULE OF JUVENILE PROCEDURE 8.010: DETENTION HEARING

(a) When Required. No detention order provided for in rule 8.013 shall be entered without a hearing at which all parties shall have an opportunity to be heard on the necessity for the child’s being held in detention, unless the court finds that the parent or custodian cannot be located or that the child’s mental or physical condition is such that a court appearance is not in the child’s best interest.
(b) Time. The detention hearing shall be held within the time limits as provided by law. A child who is detained shall be given a hearing within 24 hours after being taken into custody.
(c) Place. The detention hearing may be held in the county where the incident occurred, where the child is taken into custody, or where the child is detained.
(d) Notice. The intake officer shall make a diligent effort to notify the parent or custodian of the child of the time and place of the hearing. The notice may be by the most expeditious method available. Failure of notice to parents or custodians or their nonattendance at the hearing shall not invalidate the proceeding or the order of detention.
(e) Appointment of Counsel. At the detention hearing, the child shall be advised of the right to be represented by counsel. Counsel shall be appointed if the child qualifies, unless the child waives counsel in writing subject to the requirements of rule 8.165.
(f) Advice of Rights. At the detention hearing the persons present shall be advised of the purpose of the hearing and the child shall be
advised of:
(1) the nature of the charge for which he or she was taken into custody;
(2) that the child is not required to say anything and that anything said may be used against him or her;
(3) if the child’s parent, custodian, or counsel is not present, that he or she has a right to communicate with them and that, if necessary, reasonable means will be provided to do so; and
(4) the reason continued detention is requested.
(g) Issues. At this hearing the court shall determine the following:
(1) The existence of probable cause to believe the child has committed a delinquent act. This issue shall be determined in a nonadversary proceeding. The court shall apply the standard of proof necessary for an arrest warrant and its finding may be based upon a sworn complaint, affidavit, deposition under oath, or, if necessary, upon testimony under oath properly recorded.
(2) The need for detention according to the criteria provided by law. In making this determination in addition to the sworn testimony of available witnesses all relevant and material evidence helpful in determining the specific issue, including oral and written reports, may be relied on to the extent of its probative value, even though it would not be competent at an adjudicatory hearing.
(3) The need to release the juvenile from detention and return the child to the child’s nonresidential commitment program.
(h) Probable Cause. If the court finds that such probable cause exists, it shall enter an order making such a finding and may, if other statutory needs of detention exist, retain the child in detention. If the court finds that such probable cause does not exist, it shall forthwith release the child from detention. If the court finds that one or more of the statutory needs of detention exists, but is unable to make a finding on the existence of probable cause, it may
retain the child in detention and continue the hearing for the purpose of determining the existence of probable cause to a time within 72 hours of the time the child was taken into custody. The court may, on a showing of good cause, continue the hearing a second time for not more than 24 hours beyond the 72-hour period. Release of the child based on no probable cause existing shall not prohibit the filing of a petition and further proceedings thereunder, but shall prohibit holding the child in detention prior to an adjudicatory hearing.
(i) Presence of Counsel. The state attorney or assistant state attorney and public defender or assistant public defender shall attend the detention hearing. Detention hearings shall be held with adequate notice to the public defender and state attorney. An official record of the proceedings shall be maintained. If the child has retained counsel or expresses a desire to retain counsel and is financially able, the attendance of the public defender or assistant public defender is not required at the detention hearing.

FLORIDA RULE OF JUVENILE PROCEDURE 8.013: DETENTION PETITION AND ORDER

(a) Time Limitation. No child taken into custody shall be detained, as a result of the incident for which taken into custody, longer than as provided by law unless a detention order so directing is made by the court following a detention hearing.
(b) Petition. The detention petition shall:
(1) be in writing and be filed with the court;
(2) state the name and address of the child or, if unknown, designate the child by any name or description by which he or she can be identified with reasonable certainty;
(3) state the age and sex of the child or, if the age is unknown, that the child is believed to be of an age which will make him or her subject to the procedures covered by these rules;
(4) state the reasons why the child is in custody and needs to be detained;
(5) recommend the place where the child is to be detained or the agency to be responsible for the detention; and
(6) be signed by an authorized agent of the Department of Juvenile Justice or by the state attorney or assistant state attorney.
(c) Order. The detention order shall:

(1) be in writing;
(2) state the name and address of the child or, if unknown, designate the child by any name or description by which he or she can be identified with reasonable certainty;
(3) state the age and sex of the child or, if the age is unknown, that the child is believed to be of an age which will make him or her subject to the procedures covered by these rules;
(4) order that the child shall be held in detention and state the reasons therefor, or, if appropriate, order that the child be released from detention and returned to his or her nonresidential commitment program;
(5) make a finding that probable cause exists that the child is delinquent or that such a finding cannot be made at this time and that the case is continued for such a determination to a time certain within 72 hours from the time the child is taken into custody unless this time is extended by the court for good cause shown for not longer than an additional 24 hours;
(6) designate the place where the child is to be detained or the person or agency that will be responsible for the detention and state any special conditions found to be necessary;
(7) state the date and time when issued and the county and court where issued, together with the date and time the child was taken into custody;
(8) direct that the child be released no later than 5:00 p.m. on the last day of the specified statutory detention period, unless a continuance has been granted to the state or the child for cause; and
(9) be signed by the court with the title of office.

FLORIDA RULE OF JUVENILE PROCEDURE 8.015: ARRAIGNMENT OF DETAINED CHILD


(a) When Required. If a petition for delinquency is filed and the child is being detained, whether in secure, nonsecure, or home detention, the child shall be given a copy of the petition and shall be arraigned within 48 hours of the filing of the petition, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, or legal holidays.
(b) Notice.

(1) Personal appearance of any person in a hearing before the court shall obviate the necessity of serving process on that person.
(2) The clerk of the court shall give notice of the time and place of the arraignment to the parent or guardian of the child and the superintendent of the detention center by:
(A) summons;
(B) written notice; or
(C) telephone notice.
(3) The superintendent of the detention center, or designee, also shall verify that a diligent effort has been made to notify the parent or guardian of the child of the time and place of the arraignment.
(4) Failure of notice to the parent or guardian, or nonattendance of the parent or guardian at the hearing, shall not invalidate the proceeding.

Petition

The petition in a juvenile case is the document filed by the State Attorney’s Office accusing the juvenile of breaking the law. The petition contains basic information about what offense the juvenile is alleged to have committed. The petition normally does not contain the specific facts that caused the State Attorney’s Office to believe that the juvenile has broken the law and instead just contains a general statement of the law that was allegedly violated and the date or dates when the violation allegedly occurred. The petition is usually not very helpful in determining what allegedly occurred that caused the State Attorney’s Office to believe the juvenile committed a violation of the law. The details of the reason for the charge(s) are usually found in the law enforcement officer’s report regarding the incident. Sometimes a copy of the officer’s report is given to the parent(s) or guardian(s) at the Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC).

FLORIDA RULE OF JUVENILE PROCEDURE 8.030: COMMENCEMENT OF FORMAL PROCEEDINGS

(a) Allegations as to Child. All proceedings shall be initiated by the filing of a petition by a person authorized by law to do so. A uniform traffic complaint may be considered a petition, but shall not be subject to the requirements of rule 8.035.
(b) Allegations as to Parents or Legal Guardians. In any delinquency proceeding in which the state is seeking payment of restitution or the performance of community service work by the child’s parents or legal guardians, a separate petition alleging the parents’ or legal guardians’ responsibility shall be filed and served on the parents or legal guardians of the child.

FLORIDA RULE JUVENILE PROCEDURE 8.031: PETITION FOR PARENTAL SANCTIONS

(a) Contents. Each petition directed to the child’s parents or legal guardians shall be entitled a petition for parental sanctions and shall allege all facts showing the appropriateness of the requested sanction against the child’s parents or legal guardians.
(b) Verification. The petition shall be signed by the state attorney or assistant state attorney, stating under oath the petitioner’s good faith in filing the petition.
(c) Amendments. At any time before the hearing, an amended petition for parental sanctions may be filed or the petition may be amended on motion. Amendments shall be freely permitted in the interest of justice and the welfare of the child. A continuance may be granted on motion and a showing that the amendment prejudices or materially affects any party.

FLORIDA RULE OF JUVENILE PROCEDURE 8.035: PETITIONS FOR DELINQUENCY

(a) Contents of Petition.
(1) Each petition shall be entitled a petition for delinquency and shall allege facts showing the child to have committed a delinquent act. The petition must be a plain, concise, and definite written statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged.
(2) The petition shall contain allegations as to the identity and residence of the parents or custodians, if known.
(3) In petitions alleging delinquency, each count shall recite the official or customary citations of the statute, ordinance, rule, regulation, or other provision of the law which the child is alleged to have violated, including the degree of each offense.
(4) Two or more allegations of the commission of delinquent acts may appear in the same petition, in separate counts.
(5) Two or more children may be the subject of the same petition if they are alleged to have participated in the same act or transaction or in the same series of acts or transactions constituting an offense or offenses. The children may be named in one or more counts together or separately and all of them need not be named in each count.
(6) Allegations made in one count shall not be incorporated by reference in another count.
(b) Verification. The petition shall be signed by the state attorney or assistant state attorney, stating under oath the petitioner’s good faith in filing the petition. No objection to a petition on the grounds that it was not signed or verified, as herein provided, shall be entertained after a plea to the merits.
(c) Child’s Right to Copy of Petition. Upon application to the clerk, a child must be furnished a copy of the petition and the endorsements on it at least 24 hours before being required to plead to the petition.
(d) Amendments. At any time prior to the adjudicatory hearing an amended petition may be filed or the petition may be amended on motion. Amendments shall be freely permitted in the interest of justice and the welfare of the child. A continuance may be granted upon motion and a showing that the amendment prejudices or materially affects any party.
(e) Statement of Particulars. The court, on motion, must order the prosecuting attorney to furnish a statement of particulars when the petition on which the child is to be tried fails to inform the child of the particulars of the offense sufficiently to enable the child to prepare a defense. The statement of particulars must specify as definitely as possible the place, date, and all other material facts of the crime charged that are specifically requested and are known to the prosecuting attorney. Reasonable doubts concerning the construction of this rule shall be resolved in favor of the child.
(f) Defects and Variances. No petition or any count thereof shall be dismissed, or any judgment vacated, on account of any defect in the form of the petition or of misjoinder of offenses or for any cause whatsoever.

Discovery

Discovery is a legal process that allows a juvenile to obtain information regarding the evidence the State of Florida has in the juvenile’s case. This includes a list of witnesses, written statements from witnesses, written or recorded statements of the juvenile, tangible paper or objects that were obtained from the juvenile, reports or statements of experts and any tangible papers or objects that the State of Florida intends to use in any trial or hearing in the juvenile’s case. Discovery is usually a very important in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses in a juvenile’s case and in preparing the juvenile’s case for the adjudicatory hearing (trial).

FLORIDA RULE OF JUVENILE PROCEDURE 8.060: DISCOVERY

(a) Notice of Discovery.
(1) After the filing of the petition, a child may elect to utilize the discovery process provided by these rules, including the taking of discovery depositions, by filing with the court and serving upon the petitioner a “notice of discovery” which shall bind both the petitioner and the child to all discovery procedures contained in these rules. Participation by a child in the discovery process, including the taking of any deposition by a child, shall be an election to participate in discovery. If any child knowingly or purposely shares in discovery obtained by a codefendant, the child shall be deemed to have elected to participate in discovery.
(2) Within 5 days of service of the child’s notice of discovery, the petitioner shall serve a written discovery exhibit which shall disclose to the child or the child’s counsel and permit the child or the child’s counsel to inspect, copy, test, and photograph the following information and material within the petitioner’s possession or control:

(A) A list of the names and addresses of all persons known to the petitioner to have information which may be relevant to the allegations, to any defense with respect thereto, or to any similar fact evidence to be presented at trial under section 90.402(2), Florida Statutes. The names and addresses of persons listed shall be clearly designated in the following categories:
(i) Category A. These witnesses shall include
(a) eye witnesses;
(b) alibi witnesses and rebuttal to alibi witnesses;

(c) witnesses who were present when a recorded or unrecorded statement was taken from or made by the child or codefendant, which shall be separately identified within this category;
(d) investigating officers;
(e) witnesses known by the petitioner to have any material information that tends to negate the guilt of the child as to the petition’s allegations;
(f) child hearsay witnesses; and
(g) expert witnesses who have not provided a written report and a curriculum vitae or who are going to testify.
(ii) Category B. All witnesses not listed in either Category A or Category C.
(iii) Category C. All witnesses who performed only ministerial functions or whom the petitioner does not intend to call at the hearing and whose involvement with and knowledge of the case is fully set out in a police report or other statement furnished to the defense.

(B) The statement of any person whose name is furnished in compliance with the preceding paragraph. The term “statement” as used herein means a written statement made by said person and signed or otherwise adopted by him or her and also includes any statement of any kind or manner made by such person and written or recorded or summarized in any writing or recording. The term “statement” is specifically intended to include all police and investigative reports of any kind prepared for or in connection with the case, but shall not include the notes from which such reports are compiled.
(C) Any written or recorded statements and the substance of any oral statements made by the child and known to the petitioner, including a copy of any statements contained in police reports or summaries, together with the name and address of each witness to the statements.
(D) Any written or recorded statements, and the substance of any oral statements, made by a codefendant if the hearing is to be a joint one.

(E) Those portions of recorded grand jury minutes that contain testimony of the child.
(F) Any tangible papers or objects which were obtained from or belonged to the child.
(G) Whether the petitioner has any material or information which has been provided by a confidential informant.
(H) Whether there has been any electronic surveillance, including wiretapping, of the premises of the child, or of conversations to which the child was a party, and any documents relating thereto.
(I) Whether there has been any search or seizure and any document relating thereto.
(J) Reports or statements of experts made in connection with the particular case, including results of physical or mental examinations and of scientific tests, experiments, or comparisons.
(K) Any tangible papers or objects which the petitioner intends to use in the hearing and which were not obtained from or belonged to the child.

(3) As soon as practicable after the filing of the petition, the petitioner shall disclose to the child any material information within the state’s possession or control which tends to negate the guilt of the child as to the petition’s allegations.
(4) The petitioner shall perform the foregoing obligations in any manner mutually agreeable to the petitioner and the child or as ordered by the court.
(5) Upon a showing of materiality to the preparation of the defense, the court may require such other discovery to the child as justice may require.
(b) Required Disclosure to Petitioner.
(1) If a child elects to participate in discovery, within 5 days after receipt by the child of the discovery exhibit furnished by the petitioner under this rule, the following disclosures shall be made:

(A) The child shall furnish to the petitioner a written list of all persons whom the child expects to call as witnesses at the hearing. When the petitioner subpoenas a witness whose name has been furnished by the child, except for hearing subpoenas, reasonable notice shall be given to the child as to the time and location of examination pursuant to the subpoena. At such examination, the child through counsel shall have the right to be present and to examine the witness. The physical presence of the child shall be governed by rule 8.060(d)(6).
(B) The child shall serve a written discovery exhibit which shall disclose to the petitioner and permit the petitioner to inspect, copy, test, and photograph the following information and material which is in the child’s possession or control:
(i) The statement of any person whom the child expects to call as a trial witness other than that of the child.
(ii) Reports or statements of experts made in connection with the particular case, including results of physical or mental examinations and of scientific tests, experiments, or comparisons.
(iii) Any tangible papers or objects which the child intends to use in the hearing.

(2) The child shall perform the foregoing obligations in any manner mutually agreeable to the child and the petitioner or as ordered by the court.
(3) The filing of a motion for protective order by the petitioner will automatically stay the times provided for in this subdivision. If a protective order is granted, the child may, within 2 days thereafter, or at any time before the petitioner furnishes the information or material which is the subject of the motion for protective order, withdraw the demand and not be required to furnish reciprocal discovery.
(c) Limitations on Disclosure.
(1) Upon application, the court may deny or partially restrict disclosure authorized by this rule if it finds there is a substantial risk to any person of physical harm, intimidation, bribery, economic reprisals, or unnecessary annoyance or embarrassment resulting from such disclosure, which outweighs any usefulness of the disclosure to the party requesting it.

(2) The following matters shall not be subject to disclosure:
(A) Disclosure shall not be required of legal research or of records, correspondence, or memoranda, to the extent that they contain the opinion, theories, or conclusions of the prosecuting or defense attorney or members of their legal staff.
(B) Disclosure of a confidential informant shall not be required unless the confidential informant is to be produced at a hearing or a failure to disclose the informant’s identity will infringe upon the constitutional rights of the child.
(d) Depositions.
(1) Time and Location.
(A) At any time after the filing of the petition alleging a child to be delinquent, any party may take the deposition upon oral examination of any person authorized by this rule.

(B) Depositions of witnesses residing in the county in which the adjudicatory hearing is to take place shall be taken in the building in which the adjudicatory hearing is to be held, another location agreed on by the parties, or a location designated by the court. Depositions of witnesses residing outside the county in which the adjudicatory hearing is to take place shall take place in a court reporter’s office in the county and state in which the witness resides, another location agreed to by the parties, or a location designated by the court.
(2) Procedure.
(A) The party taking the deposition shall give reasonable written notice to each other party and shall make a good faith effort to coordinate the date, time, and location of the deposition to accommodate the schedules of other parties and the witness to be deposed. The notice shall state the time and the location of the deposition and the name of each person to be examined, and include a certificate of counsel that a good faith effort was made to coordinate the deposition schedule.
(B) Upon application, the court or the clerk of the court may issue subpoenas for the persons whose depositions are to be taken.

(C) After notice to the parties the court, for good cause shown, may change the time or location of the deposition.
(D) In any case, no person shall be deposed more than once except by consent of the parties or by order of the court issued on good cause shown.
(E) Except as otherwise provided by this rule, the procedure for taking the deposition, including the scope of the examination and the issuance of a subpoena (except for a subpoena duces tecum) for deposition by an attorney of record in the action shall be the same as that provided in the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.
(F) The child, without leave of court, may take the deposition of any witness listed by the petitioner as a Category A witness or listed by a codefendant as a witness to be called at a joint hearing. After receipt by the child of the discovery exhibit, the child, without leave of court, may take the deposition of any unlisted witness who may have information relevant to the petition’s allegations. The petitioner, without leave of court, may take the deposition of any witness listed by the child to be called at a hearing.

(G) No party may take the deposition of a witness listed by the petitioner as a Category B witness except upon leave of court with good cause shown. In determining whether to allow a deposition, the court should consider the consequences to the child, the complexities of the issues involved, the complexity of the testimony of the witness (e.g., experts), and the other opportunities available to the child to discover the information sought by deposition.
(H) A witness listed by the petitioner as a Category C witness shall not be subject to deposition unless the court determines that the witness should be listed in another category.
(I) No deposition shall be taken in a case in which a petition has been filed alleging that the child committed only a misdemeanor or a criminal traffic offense when all other discovery provided by this rule has been complied with unless good cause can be shown to the trial court. In determining whether to allow a deposition, the court should consider the consequences to the child, the complexity of the issues involved, the complexity of the witness’s testimony (e.g., experts), and the other opportunities available to the child to discover the information sought by deposition. However, this prohibition against the taking of depositions shall not be applicable if following the furnishing of discovery by thechild the petitioner then takes the statement of a listed defense witness pursuant to section 27.04, Florida Statutes.
(3) Use of Deposition. Any deposition taken pursuant to this rule may be used at any hearing covered by these rules by any party for the purpose of impeaching the testimony of the deponent as a witness.
(4) Introduction of Part of Deposition. If only part of a deposition is offered in evidence by a party, an adverse party may require the introduction of any other part that in fairness ought to be considered with the part introduced, and any party may introduce any other parts.
(5) Sanctions. A witness who refuses to obey a duly served subpoena for the taking of a deposition may be adjudged in contempt of the court from which the subpoena issued.
(6) Physical Presence of Child. The child shall not be physically present at a deposition except upon stipulation of the parties or as provided by this rule.

The court may order the physical presence of the child upon a showing of good cause. In ruling, the court may consider
(A) the need for the physical presence of the child to obtain effective discovery;
(B) the intimidating effect of the child’s presence on the witness, if any;
(C) any cost or inconvenience which may result; and
(D) any alternative electronic or audio-visual means available to protect the child’s ability to participate in discovery without the child’s physical presence.

(7) Statements of Law Enforcement Officers. Upon stipulation of the parties and the consent of the witness, the statement of a law enforcement officer may be taken by telephone in lieu of deposition of the officer. In such case, the officer need not be under oath. The statement, however, shall be recorded and may be used for impeachment at trial as a prior inconsistent statement pursuant to the Florida Evidence Code.

(8) Depositions of Law Enforcement Officers. Subject to the general provisions of this rule, law enforcement officers shall appear for deposition, without subpoena, upon written notice of taking deposition delivered at the address designated by the law enforcement agency or department or, if no address has been designated, to the address of the law enforcement agency or department, 5 days prior to the date of the deposition. Law enforcement officers who fail to appear for deposition after being served notice are subject to contempt proceedings.
(9) Videotaped Depositions. Depositions of children under the age of 16 shall be videotaped upon demand of any party unless otherwise ordered by the court. The court may order videotaping of a deposition or taking of a deposition of a witness with fragile emotional strength to be in the presence of the trial judge or a special magistrate.
(e) Perpetuating Testimony.

(1) After the filing of the petition and upon reasonable notice, any party may apply for an order to perpetuate testimony of a witness. The application shall be verified or supported by the affidavits of credible persons, and shall state that the prospective witness resides beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the court or may be unable to attend or be prevented from attending the subsequent court proceedings, or that grounds exist to believe that the witness will absent himself or herself from the jurisdiction of the court, that the testimony is material, and that it is necessary to take the deposition to prevent a failure of justice.
(2) If the application is well founded and timely made, the court shall order a commission to be issued to take the deposition of the witness to be used in subsequent court proceedings and that any designated books, papers, documents, or tangible objects, not privileged, be produced at the same time and place. The commission may be issued to any official court reporter, whether the witness be within or without the state, transcribed by the reporter, and filed in the court. The commission shall state the time and place of the deposition and be served on all parties.
(3) No deposition shall be used or read in evidence when the attendance of the witness can be procured. If it shall appear to the court that any person whose deposition has been taken has absented himself or herself by procurement, inducements, or threats by or on behalf of any party, the deposition shall not be read in evidence on behalf of that party.

(f) Nontestimonial Discovery. After the filing of the petition, upon application, and subject to constitutional limitations, the court may with directions as to time, place, and method, and upon conditions which are just, require:
(1) the child in all proceedings to:
(A) appear in a lineup;
(B) speak for identification by a witness to an offense;
(C) be fingerprinted;
(D) pose for photographs not involving reenactment of a scene;
(E) try on articles of clothing;
(F) permit the taking of specimens of material under the fingernails;
(G) permit the taking of samples of blood, hair, and other materials of the body which involve no unreasonable intrusion thereof;

(H) provide specimens of handwriting; or
(I) submit to a reasonable physical or medical inspection of his or her body; and
(2) such other discovery as justice may require upon a showing that such would be relevant or material.
(g) Court May Alter Times. The court may alter the times for compliance with any discovery under these rules on good cause shown.
(h) Supplemental Discovery. If, subsequent to compliance with these rules, a party discovers additional witnesses, evidence, or material which the party would have been under a duty to disclose or produce at the time of such previous compliance, the party shall promptly disclose or produce such witnesses, evidence, or material in the same manner as required under these rules for initial discovery.
(i) Investigations Not to Be Impeded. Except as otherwise provided for matters not subject to disclosure or restricted by protective orders, neither thecounsel for the parties nor other prosecution or defense personnel shall advise persons having relevant material or information, except for the child, to refrain from discussing the case with opposing counsel or showing opposing counsel any relevant material, nor shall they otherwise impede opposing counsel’s investigation of the case.
(j) Protective Orders. Upon a showing of good cause, the court shall at any time order that specified disclosures be restricted, deferred, or exempted from discovery, that certain matters are not to be inquired into or that the scope of the deposition be limited to certain matters, that a deposition be sealed and after being sealed be opened only by order of the court, or make such other order as is appropriate to protect a witness from harassment, unnecessary inconvenience, or invasion of privacy, including prohibiting the taking of a deposition. All material and information to which a party is entitled, however, must be disclosed in time to permit such party to make beneficial use of it.

(k) Motion to Terminate or Limit Examination. At any time during the taking of a deposition, on motion of a party or of the deponent, and upon a showing that the examination is being conducted in bad faith or in such manner as to unreasonably annoy, embarrass, or oppress the deponent or party, the court in which the action is pending or the circuit court where the deposition is being taken may (1) terminate the deposition, (2) limit the scope and manner of the taking of the deposition, (3) limit the time of the deposition, (4) continue the deposition to a later time, (5) order the deposition to be taken in open court and, in addition, (6) may impose any sanction authorized by this rule. If the order terminates the deposition, it shall be resumed thereafter only upon the order of the court in which the action is pending. Upon demand of any party or deponent, the taking of the deposition shall be suspended for the time necessary to make a motion for an order.
(l) In Camera and Ex Parte Proceedings.
(1) Any person may move for an order denying or regulating disclosure of sensitive matters. The court may consider the matters contained in the motion in camera.

(2) Upon request, the court shall allow the child to make an ex parte showing of good cause for taking the deposition of a Category B witness.
(3) A record shall be made of proceedings authorized under this subdivision. If the court enters an order granting relief after an in camera inspection or ex parte showing, the entire record of the proceeding shall be sealedand preserved in the records of the court, to be made available to the appellate court in the event of an appeal.
(m) Sanctions.
(1) If at any time during the course of the proceedings it is brought to the attention of the court that a party has failed to comply with an applicable discovery rule or with an order issued pursuant to an applicable discovery rule, the court may:
(A) order such party to comply with the discovery or inspection of materials not previously disclosed or produced;
(B) grant a continuance;
(C) grant a mistrial;

(D) prohibit the party from calling a witness not disclosed or introducing in evidence the material not disclosed; or
(E) enter such order as it deems just under the circumstances.
(2) Willful violation by counsel or a party not represented by counsel of an applicable discovery rule or an order issued pursuant thereto may subject counsel or a party not represented by counsel to appropriate sanction by the court. The sanctions may include, but are not limited to, contempt proceedings against the attorney or party not represented by counsel, as well as the assessment of costs incurred by the opposing party, when appropriate.

FLORIDA RULE OF JUVENILE PROCEDURE 8.065: NOTICE OF DEFENSE OF ALIBI

(a) Notice to State Attorney. After a petition has been served the state attorney may demand in writing that the child, who intends to offer an alibi defense, shall provide the state attorney with the details of the alibi as to the time and place where the child claims to have been at the time of the alleged offense and the names and addresses of such witnesses as may appear to testify thereon. The child shall comply as above not less than 10 days before the trial date.

(b) Rebuttal Witness List. The state attorney shall, within 5 days of the receipt thereof, provide the child with a list of such witnesses to be called to rebut the alibi testimony.

(c) Sanctions. Should the child fail or refuse to comply with the provisions hereof, the court may in its discretion exclude testimony of alibi witnesses other than the child or, should the state attorney fail to comply herewith, the court may in its discretion exclude rebuttal testimony offered by the state.

(d) Waiver of Rule. For good cause shown, the court may waive the requirements of this rule.

Arraignment

The arraignment is hearing that is held before a judge so the juvenile may enter a plea to the charge or charges. The juvenile may pled not guilty, nolo contendere (no contest) or guilty to the charge or charges. An attorney can enter a written plea of not guilty on behalf of the juvenile prior to or at the arraignment hearing. If the juvenile enters a not guilty plea to the charge or charges then the case is set for a next court date, which is usually called a pre-trial conference to further discuss the case. If the juvenile does pled no contest or guilty to the charge or charges at the arraignment hearing then the judge will set the case for a disposition hearing which is when sentence will be imposed by the court.

FLORIDA RULE OF JUVENILE PROCEDURE 8.070: ARRAIGNMENTS

(a) Appointment of Counsel. Prior to the adjudicatory hearing, the court may conduct a hearing to determine whether a guilty, nolo contendere, or not guilty plea to the petition shall be entered and whether the child is represented by counsel or entitled to appointed counsel as provided by law. Counsel shall be appointed if the child qualifies for such appointment and does not waive counsel in writing subject to the requirements of rule 8.165.
(b) Plea. The reading or statement as to the charge or charges may be waived by the child. No child, whether represented by counsel or otherwise, shall be called on to plead unless and until he or she has had a reasonable time within which to deliberate thereon. If the child is represented by counsel, counsel may file a written plea of not guilty at or before arraignment and arraignment shall then be deemed waived. If a plea of guilty or nolo contendere is entered, the court shall proceed as set forth under rule 8.115, disposition hearings. If a plea of not guilty is entered, the court shall set an adjudicatory hearing within the period of time provided by law. The child is entitled to a reasonable time in which to prepare for trial.

FLORIDA RULE OF JUVENILE PROCEDURE 8.075: PLEAS

No written answer to the petition nor any other pleading need be filed. No child, whether represented by counsel or otherwise, shall be called upon to plead until he or she has had a reasonable time within which to deliberate thereon.

(a) Acceptance of Plea. In delinquency cases the child may plead guilty, nolo contendere, or not guilty. The court may refuse to accept a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, and shall not accept either plea without first determining that the plea is made voluntarily and with a full understanding of the nature of the allegations and the possible consequences of such plea and that there is a factual basis for such plea.

(b) Plan of Proposed Treatment, Training, or Conduct. After the filing of a petition and prior to the adjudicatory hearing, a plan of proposed treatment, training, or conduct may be submitted on behalf of the child in lieu of a plea. The appropriate agencies of the Department of Juvenile Justice or other agency as designated by the court shall be the supervising agencies for said plan and the terms and conditions of all such plans shall be formulated in conjunction with the supervising agency involved. The submission of a plan is not an admission of the allegations of the petition of delinquency.
If such a plan is submitted the procedure shall be as follows:
(1) The plan must be in writing, agreed to and signed in all cases by the state attorney, the child, and, when represented, by the child’s counsel, and, unless excused by the court, by the parents or custodian. An authorized agent of the supervising agency involved shall indicate whether the agency recommends the acceptance of the plan.

(2) The plan shall contain a stipulation that the speedy trial rule is waived and shall include the state attorney’s consent to defer the prosecution of the petition.

(3) After hearing, which may be waived by stipulation of the parties and the supervising agency, the court may accept the plan and order compliance therewith, or may reject it. If the plan is rejected by the court, the court shall state on the record the reasons for rejection.

(4) Violations of the conditions of the plan shall be presented to the court by motion by the supervising agency or by any party. If the court, after hearing, finds a violation has occurred, it may take such action as is appropriate to enforce the plan, modify the plan by supplemental agreement, or set the case for hearing on the original petition.

(5) The plan shall be effective for an indeterminate period, for such period as is stated therein, or until the petition is dismissed.

(6) Unless otherwise dismissed, the petition may be dismissed on the motion of the person submitting the plan or the supervising agency, after notice of hearing and a finding of substantial compliance with the provisions and intent of the plan.
(c) Written Answer. A written answer admitting or denying the allegations of the petition may be filed by the child joined by a parent, custodian, or the child’s counsel. If the answer admits the allegations of the petition it must acknowledge that the child has been advised of the right to counsel, the right to remain silent, and the possible dispositions available to the court and shall include a consent to a predispositional study. Upon the filing of such an answer, a hearing for adjudication or adjudication and disposition shall be set at the earliest practicable time.(d) Entry of Plea by Court. If a child stands mute or pleads evasively, a plea of not guilty shall be entered by the court.
(e) Withdrawal of Plea. The court may for good cause shown at any time prior to the beginning of a disposition hearing permit a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to be withdrawn, and if a finding that the child committed a delinquent act has been entered thereon, set aside such finding and allow another plea to be substituted for the plea of guilty or nolo contendere. In the subsequent adjudicatory hearing the court shall not consider the plea which was withdrawn as an admission.
(f) Withdrawal of Plea After Drug Court Transfer. A child who pleads guilty or nolo contendere to a charge for the purpose of transferring the case, under section 910.035, Florida Statutes, may file a motion to withdraw the plea upon successful completion of the juvenile drug court treatment program.

Pre-Trial Conference

This is the court hearing where the juvenile’s attorney and the prosecutor discuss the juvenile’s case to determine if the case can be resolved without an adjudicatory hearing (trial). If some type of agreement is not reached between the juvenile’s attorney and the prosecutor then the case is normally set for an adjudicatory hearing.

Adjudicatory Hearing

In a juvenile case the trial is called an adjudicatory hearing. An adjudicatory hearing is like a trial in adult court criminal case in some ways but different in other ways. An adjudicatory hearing is not before a jury like a trial in an adult court criminal case. Instead the judge in an adjudicatory hearing serves the same role as the jury serves in an adult court criminal trial, that is the role of being the fact finder. The rules of evidence and many of the procedures during an adjudicatory hearing and an adult court criminal trial are the same. Just like in an adult court criminal case trial the State of Florida (prosecutor) in an adjudicatory hearing has the burden of proving the juvenile committed the alleged law violation(s) beyond every reasonable doubt. If the judge finds that the juvenile committed a violation of the law the judge may order the juvenile to be held in secure detention pending the disposition hearing.

FLORIDA RULE OF JUVENILE PROCEDURE 8.041: WITNESS ATTENDANCE AND SUBPOENAS

(a) Attendance. A witness summoned by a subpoena in an adjudicatory hearing shall remain in attendance at the adjudicatory hearing until excused by the court or by both parties. A witness who departs without being excused properly may be held in criminal contempt of court.
(b) Subpoenas Generally.

(1) Subpoenas for testimony before the court and subpoenas for production of tangible evidence before the court may be issued by the clerk of the court, by any attorney of record in an action, or by the court on its own motion.
(2) Except as otherwise required by this rule, the procedure for issuance of a subpoena (except for a subpoena duces tecum) by an attorney of record in a proceeding shall be as provided in the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.
(c) Subpoenas for Testimony or Production of Tangible Evidence.
(1) Every subpoena for testimony or production of tangible evidence before the court shall be issued by an attorney of record in an action or by the clerk under the seal of the court. The subpoena shall state the name of the court and the title of the action and shall command each person to whom it is directed to attend and give testimony or produce evidence at a time and place specified.
(2) On oral request of an attorney of record, and without a witness praecipe, the clerk shall issue a subpoena for testimony before the court or a subpoena for tangible evidence before the court. The subpoena shall be signed and sealed but otherwise blank, both as to the title of the action and the name of the person to whom it is directed. The subpoena shall be filled in before service by the attorney.

(d) Subpoenas for Production of Tangible Evidence. If a subpoena commands the person to whom it is directed to produce the books, papers, documents, or tangible things designated in it, the court, on motion made promptly and in any event at or before the time specified in the subpoena for compliance with it, may
(1) quash or modify the subpoena if it is unreasonable and oppressive, or
(2) condition denial of the motion on the advancement by the person in whose behalf the subpoena is issued of the reasonable cost of producing the books, papers, documents, or tangible things.

Disposition Hearing

This is the sentencing part of the case. That means this is the part of the case where the judge imposes the punishment. This part of the case only occurs if the juvenile is found at the adjudicatory hearing (trial) to have committed a violation of the law or pleads guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) to having committed a violation of the law. In order for a judge to impose the correct sentence in a case the judge needs to understand both the facts of the case and the juvenile’s circumstances. To educate the judge about the juvenile’s circumstances the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) may prepare a Predisposition Report (PDR). The PDR is prepared prior to the disposition hearing and normally is provided to the judge, the State Attorney’s Office and the juvenile’s lawyer prior to the disposition hearing for review. If the judge is anticipating sentencing the juvenile to residential commitment facility a PDR is required to be prepared. During the disposition hearing the judge should consider the PDR in addition to many other factors in determining an appropriate sentence in the juvenile’s case. It is important for the lawyer representing the juvenile present the positive aspects of the juvenile’s life. This includes changes in behavior since the juvenile’s initial contact with law enforcement in the case. This also includes family support, extra curricular activities, community service and good grades. It is important for the juvenile’s lawyer to put together a complete picture of the juvenile’s circumstances for the judge so the judge has more than just a statement of the facts surrounding the juvenile’s law violation. The judge has many choices to make at the disposition hearing regarding what the juvenile’/s sentence could be. One of the alternatives determined by the judge at the disposition hearing is whether the juvenile will be adjudicated delinquent or if adjudication of guilt will be withheld. If the judge is going to commit the juvenile to a residential commitment facility the judge is required to adjudicate the juvenile delinquent.

PROBATION

The judge may choose to place the juvenile on probation under the supervision of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). The length of the period of probation that the juvenile is sentenced to by the judge must not exceed the length of time the juvenile could have been sentenced to if the juvenile was an adult when sentenced for the offense. However, the period of probation that the juvenile is sentenced to must not go beyond the juvenile’s nineteenth birthday.

  • For a second degree misdemeanor the maximum amount of time on probation is six months.
  • For a first degree misdemeanor the maximum amount of time on probation is one year.
  • For a third degree felony the maximum amount of time on probation is five years.
  • For a second degree felony the maximum amount of time on probation is fifteen years.
  • For a first degree felony the maximum amount of time on probation is thirty years.
  • For a life felony or capital felony the maximum amount of time on probation is life or the juvenile’s nineteenth birthday, whichever comes first.

While on probation the juvenile will be required to abide by the standard conditions of probation.

In Orange County, Florida the standard conditions of probation require that:

1.)  The juvenile shall obey all laws.

2.) The juvenile shall be employed full-time or attend school with no unexcused absences,  suspensions, or disciplinary referrals.

3.) The juvenile shall not change or leave his/her residence, school, or place of employment without the consent of the court.

4.) The juvenile shall answer truthfully all questions asked of him/her by the juvenile probation officer and carry out all instructions of the court and juvenile probation officer.

5.) The juvenile shall keep in contact with the juvenile probation officer in the manner prescribed by the juvenile probation officer.

6.) The juvenile shall not use or possess alcoholic beverages or controlled substances, illegal narcotics, tobacco products or drug paraphernalia.

7.) The juvenile shall follow all household rules.

8.) The juvenile shall show no disrespect to anyone.

9.) The juvenile shall not possess any weapons.

While it is not a standard condition of probation in Orange County, Florida most juveniles placed on probation are given a special condition of probation involving a daily curfew.  The daily curfew is normally 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. with no exceptions unless specified by the Court unless the juvenile is with a parent or guardian.

In addition to the standard conditions of probation the judge may order the juvenile to complete special conditions of probation such as community service, counseling, write letter(s) of apology, classes, write an essay(s) and pay restitution. While on probation the juvenile’s probation may be supervised by a Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) who works for the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). The JPO will supervise the juvenile to ensure that all of the conditions of the juvenile’s probation are complied with. If the JPO believes that the juvenile has not complied with any of the conditions of probation then the JPO can file an affidavit alleging a violation of probation by the juvenile. The court will then determine if based on the Risk Assessment Instrument (RAI) if the juvenile should be detained pending the outcome of the violation of probation proceedings. If the juvenile is found not to be in violation of probation at a violation of probation hearing then the juvenile is returned to the original probation with the original conditions. If the juvenile admits to violating probation or is found to have violated probation at the violation of probation hearing the judge will re-sentence the juvenile.

COMMITMENT PROGRAM

If the juvenile is sentenced to a commitment program instead of probation there are five levels of commitment program: Minimum-Risk Nonresidential; Low-Risk Residential; Moderate-Risk Residential; High-Risk Residential and Maximum-Risk Residential. Minimum-Risk Residential is where the juvenile remains at home but participates in a treatment program at least five days a week. Low-Risk Residential is usually a one month to four month commitment depending on how well the juvenile does in the program. Moderate-Risk Residential is a program where the juvenile resides outside the home in a secure facility but the juvenile may have supervised time in the community. Moderate-Risk Residential is normally a six month to nine month commitment depending on how the juvenile performs in the program. High-Risk Residential is a program where the juvenile lives away from home in a secure residential facility with virtually no ability to be in the community. High-Risk Residential is usually a nine month to eighteen month commitment depending on the performance of the juvenile in the program. Maximum-Risk Residential is a secure residential program with no ability for the juvenile to be in the community and includes juvenile correctional facilities and juvenile prisons. Maximum-Risk Residential is normally an eighteen month to thirty six month program depending on the performance of the juvenile in the program. If the juvenile is sentenced to any type of commitment program the judge may also sentence the juvenile to a period of probation following the release of the juvenile from the commitment program. The length of this period of probation must not exceed the length of time the juvenile could have been placed on probation if the juvenile was an adult when the juvenile was sentenced for the offense(s). However, the period of probation may not go beyond the juvenile’s nineteenth birthday. If the judge orders the juvenile to participate in a commitment program then the juvenile will be detained until the commitment placement is available. Home detention is an option for the judge instead of secure detention. For a juvenile to be held in secure detention the detention criteria under the Risk Assessment Instrument (RAI) must be met. If the juvenile is sentenced to High-Risk Residential program or a Maximum-Risk Residential program then the juvenile must be placed in secure detention or on home detention until the juvenile is placed in the program. If the juvenile has been sentenced to a Low-Risk Residential program or a Moderate-Risk Residential program the juvenile may only be held in secure detention for five days unless the juvenile has been sentenced to a Moderate-Risk Residential program then the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) may ask the judge for a secure detention extension of fifteen days after the commitment order is entered. This fifteen day extension does not include Saturdays, Sundays and any other legal holiday.

DNA

DNA collection is required for felonies and certain misdemeanors if the juvenile has been arrested by a law enforcement officer. This DNA collection is required even if the juvenile has never been before a judge. If a juvenile is found guilty of certain felony offenses the court may require the juvenile to submit to DNA testing. DNA test results are kept by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

Adult Consequences

Everyone hopes that this offense is the juvenile’s last one if it is not when the juvenile becomes an adult a juvenile charge may be used for sentence enhancement in the adult sentence for a period of five years.

Prearrest, Postarrest, Or Teen Court Diversion Expunction

According to Florida Statute 943.0582, notwithstanding any law dealing generally with the preservation and destruction of public records, the Florida Department Of Law Enforcement may provide, by rule adopted pursuant to chapter 120, for the expunction of any nonjudicial record of the arrest of a minor who has successfully completed a prearrest or postarrest diversion program for minors as authorized by Florida Statute 985.125. 

The term “expunction” as used in Florida Statute 943.0582 has the same meaning ascribed in and effect as Florida Statute 943.0585 except that:

  1. The provisions of Florida Statute 943.0585 (4)(a) do not apply, except the criminal history record of a person whose record is expunged pursuant to 943.0582 shall be made available to criminal justice agencies for the purpose of determining the eligibility for prearrest, postarrest, or teen court diversion programs; when the record is sought as part of a criminal investigation; or when the subject of the record is a candidate for employment with a criminal justice agency.  For all other purposes, a person whose record is expunged under Florida Statute 943.0582 may lawfully deny or fail to acknowledge the arrest and the charge covered by the expunged record.
  2. Records maintained by local criminal justice agencies in the county in which the arrest occurred that are eligible for expunction pursuant to Florida Statute 943.0582 shall be “sealed” as the term is used in Florida Statute 943.059.

    The term “nonviolent misdemeanor” as used in Florida Statute 943.0582 includes simple assault or battery when prearrest or postarrest diversion expunction is approved in writing by the State Attorney for the county in which the arrest occurred.

    The Florida Department Of Law Enforcement shall expunge the nonjudicial arrest record of a minor who has successfully completed a prearrest or postarrest diversion program if that minor:

  1. Submits an application for prearrest or postarrest diversion expunction, on a form prescribed by the Florida Department Of Law Enforcement, signed by the minor’s parent or legal guardian, or by the minor if he or she has reached the age of majority at the time of applying.
  2. Submits the application for prearrest or postarrest diversion expunction no later than 12 months after completion of the diversion program.
  3. Submits to the Florida Department Of Law Enforcement, with the application, an official written statement from the State Attorney for the county in which the arrest occurred certifying that he or she has successfully completed that county’s prearrest or postarrest diversion program, that his or her participation in the program was based on an arrest for a nonviolent misdemeanor, and that he or she has not otherwise been charged by the State Attorney with or found to have committed any criminal offense or comparable ordinance violation.
  4. Participated in a prearrest or postarrest diversion program that expressly authorizes or permits such expunction to occur.
  5. Participated in a prearrest or postarrest diversion program based on an arrest for a nonviolent misdemeanor that would not qualify as an act of “domestic violence” as that term  is defined in Florida Statute 741.28.
  6. Has never, prior to filing the application for expunction, been charged by the State attorney with or been found to have committed any criminal offense or comparable ordinance violation.

    The Florida Department Of Law Enforcement is authorized to charge a $75 processing fee for each request received for prearrest or postarrest diversion program expunction, for placement in the Department of Law Enforcement Operating Trust Fund, unless such fee is waived by the executive director.

    Expunction or sealing granted under Florida Statute 943.0582 does not prevent the minor who receives such relief from petitioning for the expunction or sealing of a later criminal history record as provided for in Florida Statue 943.0583, Florida Statute 943.0585, and Florida Statute 943.059, if the minor is otherwise eligible under those sections.

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