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How does Florida handle juvenile offenses?

| Oct 2, 2020 | Juvenile Crimes

If law enforcement arrests and charges your child with a crime, you may feel angry, fearful and helpless. Understanding the Florida juvenile justice process can help you get a handle on this difficult situation. 

Learn more about what to expect if your child becomes involved with the state juvenile justice system. 

After the arrest

The next steps after juvenile charges depend on the specific crime, at the discretion of law enforcement. First, the officer will take your child either to a juvenile detention center or assessment center for screening. This process determines whether the state should detain your child depending if he or she poses a risk to others. 

In most cases, however, you will be able to take custody of your child. Law enforcement will refer him or her to a diversion program, which may involve probation, community service or other requirements. 

The role of the juvenile probation officer

The state will assign your child a juvenile probation officer, who serves as a case manager and makes recommendations about your child’s case. This professional uses the PACT assessment, which stands for Positive Achievement Change Tool, to identify your child’s strengths and areas for improvement. Based on the severity of the offense, these recommendations may include: 

  • Vocational skills training 
  • Academic progress monitoring 
  • Letter of apology to individuals affected by the crime 
  • Mental health treatment 
  • Substance use disorder treatment 
  • Drug screening 
  • Family counseling 

The JPO will help your family coordinate these services and create a youth-empowered success (YES) plan. This document contains individual and family goals for your child along with interventions targeted toward these goals.