Juvenile Rights

Until juveniles charged with felony crimes (shocking as they may appear) have not been rendered to be true in a court of law. Unfortunately, our judicial system wants us to believe that everyone is innocent until proven guilty–if that were true– then why do some law enforcement officers lie in order to make an arrest? Remeber, if your child is ever arrested and has to appear in court, please, please, please get a copy of the Probable Cause Report and the Discovery Report. Read all of it! Every last word/page–regardless of how many pages it may be. Make sure you and your child understand it. Discuss all discrepancies with your child’s attorney.

1. The privilege against compulsory self-incrimination which includes the right to plead not guilty.
2. The right to a trial in which the State must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
3. The right to a speedy trial.
4. The right to confront the witnesses against them.
5. The right to compulsory process to obtain witnesses in their favor.
6. The right to have the effective assistance of counsel for their defense at trial.
7. The right to present any defense on their behalf.
8. The right to appeal.

NOTE: a minor prosecuted in juvenile court is only entitled to a bench trial with the judge acting as both judge and jury.

*Arrest of Juvenile
In some cases involving minor criminal offenses committed by a child, the police may
issue a notice to appear instead of arresting the child. If the child is arrested, they are not taken to the County Jail, but are instead transported to the Juvenile Assessment Center where they are processed. The police and the facility are required to attempt to contact the child’s parent or guardian as soon as practical after an arrest.

*Arrest Records
The arrest record of the child are confidential and not accessible to the general public, unlike an adult.

*Detention & Release
Once the child is processed, they may be released back to the custody of their parents in
certain cases. In other cases, involving more serious offenses the child will be transported to the County Juvenile Detention Center. This center is similar to the Jail in many respects but is designed for children so that there is no
contact with adult offenders.

If the child is detained they will be seen by a Judge at a first appearance hearing within 24 hours, and the Judge will determine whether they should remain detained or be released to the Parent or Guardian. Parents or Guardians should make every effort to be present when the child is brought before the Judge at this hearing.

A juvenile has the same rights as an adult in regards to discovery, and the defense can obtain copies of or view the evidence the State intends to use at trial. In Felony cases this included the right to depose any State witnesses.

Juveniles can use the same defenses available to adults.

A child is subject to a trial before a judge instead of a jury of their peers.

Juvenile Court can range from a Judicial Warning to the Commitment of the child to a Juvenile Center or Program. In addition to these immediate penalties, many professions and schools require full disclosure of both juvenile records, affecting future opportunities throughout their lives. In certain cases, depending on the age and severity of the crime, the State Attorney’s Office may decide to charge the crime in adult court, subjecting the Juvenile
to adult sanctions, including jail or prison time.

Age of Consent

794.05 Unlawful Sexual Activity with certian mionors–

(1) A person 24 years of age or older who engages in sexual activity with a person 16 or 17 years of age commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. As used in this section, “sexual activity” means oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another; however, sexual activity does not include an act done for a bona fide medical purpose.

(2) The provisions of this section do not apply to a person 16 or 17 years of age who has had the disabilities of monage removed under chapter 743.

(3) The victim’s prior sexual conduct is not a relevant issue in a prosecution under this section.

(4) If an offense under this section directly results in the victim giving birth to a child, paternity of that child shall be established as described in chapter 742. If it is detemined that the offender is the father of the child, the offender must pay child support pursuant to the child support guidelines described in chapter 61.


Jessica Lunsford Act

Section 1012.465, Florida Statutes, now states (amendments underlined):

  • Noninstructional school district employees or contractual personnel who are permitted access on school grounds when students are present, who have direct contact with students or who have access to or control of school funds must meet Level 2 screening requirements as described in s. 1012.32, F.S.  Contractual personnel shall include any vendor, individual, or entity under contract with the school board.

The statute, as amended, applies to three categories of either noninstructional or contractual personnel, all of whom must meet Level 2 background screening requirements, including those:

  1. Who are permitted access on school grounds when students are present,
  2. Who have direct contact with students, or
  3. Who have access to or control of school funds.

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