When your child faces arrest, a criminal charge and the possibility of a conviction, along with an inevitable court date, it is natural to feel a slew of emotions. Most typically, fear, anger and helplessness affect both parents and children alike in this scenario.
Thus, one of the most important things for you to do is understand the juvenile process. This can help you learn what to expect if your child does get wrapped up in the state’s juvenile system.
First steps after a charge
The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice discusses the process for juvenile justice in the state. Steps taken after the initial charge will differ depending on the type of crime committed. Law enforcement will also act in accordance with its own discretion. An officer will first take your child to either a juvenile detention center or they will go to an assessment center for screening. The results of this screening will determine whether or not your child will face detention due to posing a threat to others.
You have a high chance of taking custody of your child, though. In this case, an officer will instead direct your child to a diversion program. This may include community service, probation or other varied requirements.
Probation officer recommendations
Your child will also have a state-assigned probation officer. This person will make recommendations about your child’s case, as well as serve as a manager for the case. They will use the Positive Achievement Change Tool (PACT) to identify areas of improvement and strengths. Some recommendations based on offense may include family counseling, substance use disorder treatment and vocational skills training. They may also suggest mental health treatment, drug counseling, academic progress monitoring and/or writing a letter of apology to the victim(s) affected by the crime your child committed.