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Florida Civil Citation


The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) civil citation initiative addresses a youth’s behavior at his or her first encounter with the juvenile justice system and provides an alternative to arrest for that child. 

Civil citation is vital to DJJ’s efforts to reform the juvenile justice system by giving first-time misdemeanor offenders the opportunity to participate in intervention services at the earliest stage of delinquency. Diverting first-time misdemeanants through civil citation will save millions of dollars that would otherwise be spent if youth were arrested and required to go through formal delinquency processing.

DJJ wants to work with you to make civil citation a success and looks forward to building partnerships with DJJ providers and other community stakeholders to enhance pre-existing civil citation programs and to promote and expand the civil citation process statewide.  By intervening at the early stages of delinquency, we can help shape the future of our youth! 

To find out how civil citation can make an impact in your community, contact: 

Theda M Roberts

Civil Citation Coordinator

Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
2737 Centerview Drive
Tallahassee, FL 32399

(321) 383-2751

Civil Citation FAQs

  • Q: What is civil citation and what are its advantages?

    Civil citation is a process to channel youth who commit first-time misdemeanors into intervention services at the early stage of delinquency and help them avoid further involvement with the criminal justice system. Research has shown that youth who have been detained in juvenile justice facilities are more likely to end up deeper in the system and are at risk to reoffend.

    Advantages of civil citation include:

    • Enhancing public safety by encouraging youth to stay out of trouble. Civil citation identifies and assesses the behavioral needs of youth after their first misdemeanor encounter with law enforcement, giving youth the chance to change conduct that leads to delinquency. The recidivism rate  for civil citation youth stands at 4 percent, the lowest such measure in the DJJ continuum of services. It also avoids significant costs to the state and local governments by decreasing the likelihood that youth will reoffend. As with any diversion effort, if a youth fails to complete civil citation requirements, the incident is processed as a referral to the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).
    • Requiring youth to participate in intervention services based on a needs assessment. Civil citation may also include other obligations such as performing community service, providing restitution, participating in school progress monitoring or prevocational services and writing letters of apology to the victim(s).
    • Allowing youth to avoid a criminal record, which can hinder eligibility for employment, scholarships and other opportunities. Civil citation allows juveniles the opportunity to fulfill their debt to society without limiting future growth and success.
    • Saving taxpayers money. A November 2010 report by Associated Industries of Florida estimated that implementing civil citation statewide would save $157.8 million. According to the report, civil citation “is one of the best examples of a highly effective program as well as a significant and smart return on investment.”
  • Q: 2) Doesn’t Florida have a long-standing law authorizing a civil citation program? If so, how did the legislation passed in 2011 (CS/HB 997) differ from what already existed?
    A: Prior to 2011, s. 985.12, Florida Statutes, authorized local governments to establish civil citation programs. CS/HB 997, passed in the 2011 legislative session, requires such programs in every community. Statewide implementation offers all first-time misdemeanant youth an equitable opportunity to participate in civil citation, an opportunity with limited availability in the past. Current law directs DJJ to develop guidelines for civil citation, which include intervention services based on proven diversion programs. Also effective July 1, 2011, only youth who commit first-time misdemeanors will be eligible for civil citation. Participants will be offered services based on the results of a needs assessment. Civil citation programs are also required to report outcomes to DJJ for tracking and analysis of results and trends. In many communities, this reporting entity will be the Juvenile Assessment Center or, in small communities, the juvenile probation officer.
  • Q: What counties in Florida already implement a civil citation program? How will they be affected by CS/HB 997?
    A: As of February 2014, civil citation was operational in 52 of Florida’s 67 counties. Click here to see which counties have already implemented civil citation. Unless these programs already do so, under CS/HB 997 they must limit eligibility to first time misdemeanants, report outcomes to DJJ and provide services based on a needs assessment.
  • Q: How exactly does civil citation work? Who decides to issue a civil citation rather than make an arrest?

    A law enforcement officer who encounters a youth who has committed his or her first misdemeanor offense may opt to issue the youth a civil citation. The officer would then transport the youth to a Juvenile  Assessment Center (JAC) and sign the civil citation form and any paperwork required to book a juvenile. The JAC confirms identity and eligibility; assesses the youth; assigns sanctions; refers for needed services; and provides case management through program completion. 

    Alternatively, the officer may issue a field citation by completing the civil citation form; confirming identity and eligibility; and releasing the youth to a parent or responsible adult. The officer faxes the original arrest affidavit civil citation form and release agreement to the JAC or operating agency for follow-up and processing as indicated above. For a graphic of this process, click here.

  • Q: What exactly does civil citation require a youth to do?
    A: CS/HB 997 provides that a youth can be required to perform up to 50 hours of community service and must participate in intervention services based on an assessment of the youth’s needs. Services may include family counseling, drug screening, substance abuse treatment, and/or mental health treatment. Additional sanctions or services considered at the local level could include a letter of apology to the victim(s), restitution, school progress monitoring or prevocational skill services. Youth who do not complete their civil citation requirements will be referred to DJJ.
  • Q: What agency or agencies are responsible for implementing the program? What is DJJ’s role?
    A: Civil citation is implemented through coordination and agreement between the state attorney and local law enforcement agencies and with the concurrence of the chief circuit judge and the public defender. The agency that operates the civil citation program may be law enforcement, DJJ, a juvenile assessment center, the county or municipality or an entity selected by them. Civil citation may be operated in many communities by the Juvenile Assessment Center or in small communities by a juvenile probation officer. In addition, DJJ will help improve and implement programs, collect and analyze data and develop guidelines for implementation.
  • Q: How does a local government set up a civil citation program?
    A: DJJ’s Civil Citation Implementation Guide and Model Plan  will assist local governments in developing their own civil citation process. DJJ’s Civil Citation Coordinator stands ready to work with community stakeholders to implement and enhance civil citation opportunities across the state.
  • Q: Is there a fiscal impact to the civil citation program? Will it cost the state or local governments to implement it?
    A: According to the legislative staff analysis of CS/HB 997, “Civil citation and diversion programs are designed to prevent youth from formally entering the juvenile justice system. By requiring that civil citation or similar diversion programs be established at the local level, it is possible for the bill to have a positive fiscal impact on DJJ and the courts. Because civil citation and other diversion programs are designed to prevent youth from formally entering into the juvenile justice system, cost savings could occur throughout several entities within DJJ. However, the precise impact of the bill will depend on the utilization of the civil citation or similar diversion programs and the success rate of the programs. The bill requires DJJ to develop guidelines for the civil citation program. DJJ’s analysis states the cost of the requirements in this bill are cost neutral and can be accomplished within existing funds.”
  • Q: Are local governments required to have a civil citation program even though they have other diversionary program(s)?
    A: The law specifies that local governments must have a “civil citation or other similar program.” Civil citation will not take the place of or eliminate other types of similar diversion programs. As long as such programs meet the requirements of s. 985.12, Florida Statutes, for civil citation, local governments will not be required to develop another program.
  • Q: How does DJJ protect the records of civil citation youth?
    A: DJJ stores civil citation data in the Juvenile Justice System Information Prevention Web.  Access to the Prevention Web is limited to DJJ employees, civil citation intake screeners and operating entities, and limited individuals authorized by the DJJ secretary.
  • Q: What is the role of the juvenile justice circuit advisory board?
    A: The role of juvenile justice circuit advisory boards, as well as other stakeholders, will be determined at the local level.
  • Q: Who at DJJ can I contact for more information on starting a civil citation program locally?
    A: The civil citation coordinator is available to answer questions, meet with local stakeholders, and assist in building a robust civil citation process in each community.    In addition, DJJ chief probation officers  can provide local information and guidance.
  • Q: What are the latest statistics on how many civil citations have been issued?
    A: The Civil Citation Dashboard reflects the most recent data available for civil citation youth and the DJJ Delinquency Profile reflects youth offense data from prior five years.  The Comprehensive Accountability Report reflects programmatic data from the prior year.