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Juvenile crimes: Civil citations underutilized

Lawmakers in Florida and across the country believe that prison and the company of adult criminals are not the best places for children. Their opinion is that aberrant behavior in most minors can be rehabilitated if caught at a young age. For that reason, accusations of juvenile crimes are treated in a different way than charges for adults under the criminal justice system.

The juvenile justice system suggests that juvenile offenders should receive civil citations rather than being arrested for less serious crimes. These include typical youth misbehavior, petty theft, minor alcohol and drug offenses and fighting. It is suggested that community service and letters of apology to victims may be sufficient.

However, it has been suggested that the use of civil citations is not utilized enough across the state. In 2016, 9,000 youths were arrested in Florida for minor offenses. It's felt that processing some juvenile crimes charges by using civil citations will make it less likely that those individuals affected will subsequently commit crimes as adults.

Although the justice system of Florida is geared toward rehabilitation when it comes to juvenile crimes, minors have the same rights as adults, including the right to remain silent and to be represented by an attorney. The most logical step for any parent whose child is arrested is to retain the services of a criminal defense lawyer. In these types of proceedings it often makes sense to focus on what is going on in the life of the accused individual and figure out the best approach to help him or her succeed in life. An attorney can help focus the discussion on these issues while also protecting the legal rights of the young person involved.

Source: wtxl.com, "Civil citations for juvenile offenders increasing in Florida", Oct. 24, 2017

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