When a person under the age of 18 years has been arrested for a criminal offense, the case will most likely end up in juvenile delinquency court, although adult charges are possible for more serious offenses. Delinquency attorneys at the Brandon law firm of The Bantner Firm have the experience necessary to properly help you or your child through this unfamiliar territory.
The allegations against the child are formally initiated by the Office of the State Attorney through the filing of a Petition alleging that the child has committed a delinquent act. The decision on whether to file a petition rests solely with the State Attorney regardless of any recommendations made by the Department of Juvenile Justice. Delinquent acts most often are criminal acts.
Once a Petition has been filed, it must be served with a summons on the child, the child’s parents, custodians, or guardians and the guardian ad litem. The parents or custodian is responsible for getting the child to the hearing at the date and time named in the summons. If the child is detained, the child is served in custody and must be arraigned within 48 hours after the Petition is filed.
The first major hearing is the arraignment. At an arraignment, the child enters a plea of guilty, no contest, or not guilty. Most times it is advisable to enter a plea of not guilty to give you and your attorney time to investigate the case thoroughly and to review the discovery documents. At this hearing the Court will also appoint the Public Defender to represent the child if the child otherwise qualifies for an appointment. If a not guilty plea is entered, the case will be set for an adjudicatory hearing. The adjudicatory hearing must be held within 90 days of the date of arrest or service of the summons, whichever is earlier. Adam Bantner is an experienced trial attorney that will fight the allegations against you or your child at the adjudicatory hearing.
First-time offenders are often eligible for a diversion program or a “Walker Plan,” which is a proposed plan of treatment, training or conduct. These programs are discretionary with the Office of the State Attorney. However, we can negotiate with the State Attorney for the purpose of persuading them to offer diversion or a Walker Plan that is beneficial to the child. If the child successfully completes the program, the Petition may be dismissed by the court upon proper motion. If the plan is violated, the court may enforce it, modify it, or set the case for an adjudicatory hearing.
If the child is found to have committed a delinquent act, either after trial or entry of a plea, the court has a variety of options at disposition. These include:
The Court also must decide whether to adjudicate the child delinquent or to withhold adjudication of delinquency.
If the juvenile delinquent is found to have used a firearm during the commission of the delinquent act, mandatory detention and community service hours will apply. Section 790.22(9)(a) states:
(9) Notwithstanding s. 985.245, if the minor is found to have committed an offense that involves the use or possession of a firearm, as defined in s. 790.001, other than a violation of subsection (3), or an offense during the commission of which the minor possessed a firearm, and the minor is not committed to a residential commitment program of the Department of Juvenile Justice, in addition to any other punishment provided by law, the court shall order:
(a) For a first offense, that the minor shall serve a minimum period of detention of 15 days in a secure detention facility; and
1. Perform 100 hours of community service; and may
2. Be placed on community control or in a nonresidential commitment program.
Courts have held that these mandatory provisions apply even if the juvenile did not actually possess the firearm, i.e., it was possessed a co-defendant. State v. I.J., 43 Fla. L. Weekly D2495c (Fla. 4th DCA 2018).
Hillsborough County law firm The Bantner Firm will fight for the best result for every child it represents. Call us today at 813.397.3965 to discuss your case for free!