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Juvenile Justice Process


Find out what to expect during the Juvenile Justice process.
Process Flow Chart Contact with Law Enforcement Civil Citation Diversion Program Taken into Custody Adult Court JDAI DRAI Assessment Secure Detention Center Await Court Date at Home Case Dropped 'Nolle Prossed' Adjudication Withheld Adjudicated Residential Facility YES Plan Youth Released
Youth Released

The youth is released from DJJ Custody either with or without continued supervision.

Commitment to a Residential Facility A residential facility is a place where a child is sent to live and receive treatment after a Juvenile Court Judge rules on that child’s law-breaking behavior.  A residential commitment program promotes that child's rehabilitation and helps the child learn not to break the law again.  The residential facility promotes community safety.
Meet with JPO to Develop a YES Plan The Youth-Empowered Success (YES) Plan assist the Juvenile Probation Officers and contracted case managers to use the information gathered through the PACT assessment to establish meaningful goals and actions in collaboration with the youth and family.
Case Dropped "Nolle Prossed" A discontinued prosecution. A formal entry by the state attorney that a case will not be prosecuted.
Adjudication Withheld The court finds that a youth committed a delinquent act, but withholds an adjudication of delinquency. The court places the youth on community supervision.
Youth Adjudicated The court finds a youth guilty of committing a delinquent act. The court can commit the youth or place the youth on community supervision.
Secure Detention Center Depending on the risk level, youth may be required to stay in a secure detention center until further action is determined.
Await Court Date At Home with Conditions Depending on the risk level, youth may be allowed to await their court dates at home under certain conditions.
Detention Risk Assessment Instrument (DRAI) The instrument used to determine if a youth meets detention criteria and to determine whether a youth should be placed in secure, non-secure, or home detention care prior to a detention hearing.
Referral to Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) A detention reform and juvenile justice system improvement initiative that focuses on moving low-risk youth from secure detention into community-based alternative programs.  JDAI is a comprehensive initiative of eight strategies involving system-wide change in philosophy, practice and policy in coordination with the local jurisdiction level and state level.
Taken into Custody and Referred to DJJ by Officer In the juvenile justice system youth are taken into custody; whereas, adults are arrested. Once in custody, youth are referred to their local Juvenile Assessment Center or an on-call screener and the family is notified.
Referral to Diversion Program A program designed to keep a youth from entering the juvenile justice system through the legal process.
Youth has Contact With Law Enforcement The youth is discovered participating in a delinquent act and a law enforcement officer gets involved.
Civil Citation Issued A new program designed to addresses a youth’s behavior at his or her first encounter with the juvenile justice system providing an alternative to arrest.
Referral to Adult Court Court for adults over the age of 18 or for a youth charged with a crime as an adult. Youth in adult court may be sentenced to either youth or adult sanctions.

Prevention


What We Do

  • The Office of Prevention and Victim Services is the first service component on the Department’s continuum of services. Our goal is to intervene early in the lives of at-risk youth and decrease the chance of juvenile arrest and recidivism.
  • Our Office is charged with implementing programs, strategies, initiatives, and networks designed to prevent children from making contact with the juvenile justice system.
  • Our office also offers diversion and intervention services in an effort to keep children from penetrating deeper into the system.
  • We also foster partnerships with community stakeholders, faith-based organizations and volunteers.

FAQs


  • Q: Are there any gender specific programs in Florida?
    A: Yes; Practical Academic Cultural Education (PACE) Center for Girls, Inc. Click here for additional information or contact our Community Liaison (850) 488-3302.
  • Q: Are there any programs for children who have not committed a crime?
    A: Yes; Children In Need of Services/Families In Need of Services (CINS/FINS). For additional information view the Youth Programs web page or contact the Community Liaison at (850) 488-3302.

Probation - Intake


What We Do

  • Youth undergoes DRAI assessment at a Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) or by an on-call screener if a JAC is not available in their area.
  • Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) meets with youth and family to assess risk to public safety and service needs.
  • JPO makes a recommendation to State Attorney.

FAQs


  • Q: How do I contact the Juvenile Assessment Center?
    A: Click on the following to find the JAC center in your area: Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC).
  • Q: How do I contact a JPO?
    A: You may find contact information at the following link  Juvenile Probation Officer  Supervisor Contacts to search by county and city or refer to the Probation Leadership Main Directory  for contact information.
  • Q: I live in Florida and need to move to another state. What is the process?
    A: Youth who are on probation or “parole” (see below) in Florida and need to relocate to another state (receiving state) must request a transfer through their juvenile probation officer in Florida. Once the receiving state agrees to the transfer request and supervision, the youth is allowed to relocate.

Detention


What We Do

  • Youth may be placed temporarily in a secure detention facility while awaiting court disposition.
  • Youth can be confined for up to 21 days.
  • Youth who violate court ordered sanctions may be detained longer.

FAQs


  • Q: What can we bring our son/daughter?
    A: Clothing and personal hygiene items are provided for all youth. The detention center provides supplies and clothing for the youth. Detained youth are not permitted to have money. Gifts are discouraged while the detainee is in the detention center. Snacks are provided by the detention center every night. Detained youth are not permitted to have any tobacco products at any time while they are in the detention center.
  • Q: When is court and where?
    A: Within 24 hours after taken into custody, the youth will appear in court and have a detention hearing before a judge authorizing the youth’s detention status. If the judge continues the youth’s detention status, his/her length of stay may extend up to 21 days or more.
  • Q: Are families allowed to visit juveniles detained in detention?
    A: Yes. Visitation is an important component of a youth’s stay in detention and is encouraged and supported by detention staff. Parents, grandparents, and legal guardians are approved visitors. Others may only visit if so ordered by the court or specifically approved by the Superintendent or designee. A youth's assigned Juvenile Probation Officer should be contacted to approve both visitation list additions and special visitation arrangements.

     

    Click here for a list of detention centers and visiting hours. Detention Centers 

    Legal counsel, Probation, law enforcement, clergy and other professionals may visit youth outside of regularly established visitation times as necessary, and are subject to any requirements regarding signing-in and contraband.

    All visitors are subject to electronic search. Visitors shall not bring personal items (e.g. keys, purses, packages, etc.) into the secure area. The introduction of any unauthorized items into a detention facility is a 3rd degree felony.

    All visitors will be required to sign-in and sign-out on the Visitor’s Log of the youth being visited. Visitors shall be denied entrance if they:

    • Are disruptive or uncooperative;
    • Refuse to be searched;
    • Refuse to comply with officer instructions;
    • Are under the influence or appear to be under the influence of any intoxicating substance;
    • Fail to present proper photo identification;
    • Attempt to introduce contraband to the secure area; and/or
    • Are dressed in inappropriate attire as outline in the Facility Operating Procedures and as posted at the facility entrance.

    Visitation may be terminated if the behavior of the visitor or of the youth is disruptive or not in compliance with facility policies and procedures. The termination of a visit may lead to the suspension of future visitation privileges at the discretion of the Superintendent.

    Any questions that a visitor may have regarding a youth’s case or charges should be referred to the youth's assigned Juvenile Probation Officer. Other questions should be referred to the on-duty JJDO Supervisor.

    Visitation shall take place in a designated area or room of the facility that contributes to a safe and secure environment. Visitation room or areas and any other common area shall be searched both prior to and following visitation to ensure the absence of any hazardous or dangerous items or items that would be considered contraband.

  • Q: Do the youth receive medical treatment while in detention?
    A: Yes. Medical services are provided through a contract with a local health care provider. All youth entering the detention center receive a routine medical screening within 72 hours of their admittance to the facility. Routine examinations may include TB, vision, and screening for sexually transmitted diseases. The medical clinic is staffed by licensed medical staff who are available to respond to health-related issues daily. Any medical problems that cannot be handled by medical staff will be referred to a local medical facility. Parents should contact the center if their child is in need of medical services. Parents will be notified if any emergency medical services are needed during the youth’s stay in the detention center. In addition, detention staff are trained in CPR and First Aid to ensure that they are prepared to handle emergency medical situations if they arise.

Court Disposition


What We Do

  • Youth will undergo Adjudicatory hearing (non-jury trial).
  • Youth must appear before a judge who will determine outcomes and sanctions.

FAQs


  • Q: What is the difference between adjudicated and adjudication withheld?
    A: If your child is “adjudicated” then a judge has ruled that your child committed a delinquent act or violation of law and is therefore adjudicated delinquent. If your child has “adjudication withheld,” then a judge similarly concluded that your child committed a delinquent act or violation of law, but a formal pronouncement of delinquency should be withheld. Adjudication is significant, not simply due to the formal pronouncement of delinquency, but because only adjudicated delinquent youths may be committed to the Department.
  • Q: What about court fees and “cost of care?”
    A: In certain circumstances that your child’s JPO can explain to you, you and your child may be responsible for costs. These costs may include court fees and, if your child is or was in the custody of DJJ for detention or commitment, the costs may include a per-day charge for your child’s cost of care while in DJJ custody.

Probation - Supervision 


What We Do

  • Youth is supervised by a Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO).
  • JPO meets with youth to develop YES plan.

FAQs


  • Q: What are my responsibilities if my child is on probation or supervision?
    A: We need your help to ensure that your child’s needs are being met and to ensure that he is successful in achieving the treatment goals and sanctions in the court order. You can help ensure your child’s success by doing the following:
    • Maintain regular contact with your child’s JPO and keep him informed of your child’s successes and struggles while on probation or supervision. The more information the JPO has, the better able we are to meet your child’s needs and help them succeed.
    • Cooperate with school officials to help your child stay on task academically. Share concerns of poor attendance, performance, or behavior with your child’s JPO so the right steps can be taken to help your child succeed in school.
    • Attend all court proceedings with your child.
    • Ensure that you, your child and your family members attend any required counseling or therapy.
    • Arrange for your child’s transportation to counseling, employment, community service work sites, and home from the residential commitment program. If transportation is a problem, contact your child’s JPO to discuss transportation options.
    • Ensure that your child completes court-ordered goals and sanctions within the established timeframes.
    • Provide a home for your child that is safe, nurturing and recognizes your child’s strengths and successes.
  • Q: What happens if I violate Probation?
    A: When a youth is placed on probation, he or she is assigned a Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO), who monitors compliance with the court-ordered sanctions and services. The court order also specifies that the child’s parent/guardian "shall report violations of this order by the child to the JPO and to the court". Therefore, the Juvenile Probation Officer and the parent/guardian will work together to enforce the court order. If the youth violates the conditions of probation or fails to complete the sanctions imposed by the court, a Violation of Probation will be filed. If the court finds that a violation of probation occurred, it may revoke probation and impose a sentence such as placement in a Department of Juvenile Justice residential facility.
  • Q: What is a YES Plan?
    A: The Youth-Empowered Success (YES) Plan assist the Juvenile Probation Officers and contracted case managers to use the information gathered through the PACT assessment to establish meaningful goals and actions in collaboration with the youth and family.

Residential


What We Do

  • Youth is placed in residential facility following adjudication.
  • Youth is in the care of DJJ for at least 60 to 90 days (low-risk) and up to 18 to 36 months (maximum-risk).
  • If a bed at the appropriate commitment level is not available in a residential facility, the youth may remain in a secure detention center until one is available.

FAQs


  • Q: How do I make a Cost of Care Payment?
    A: A bill will be sent to you each month indicating the amount charged, the dates the child was admitted to and released from the program, or was under supervision, and the total unpaid balance due. 

    You also may make your Cost of Care payment online.

  • Q: If the court orders my child to pay restitution, what does that mean and how are payments made?
    A: The court may determine that your child or additional co-defendants are “jointly” responsible for damages caused in the offense that led to your child’s arrest. As a result, the court may order your child to pay for those damages (pay restitution) to the victim of that crime. In the case of joint responsibility for damages, each co-defendant(s) will share responsibility for paying restitution. If the other co-defendant(s) do not pay their share of the damages, then your child may be responsible to pay all of the restitution.

    Restitution payments and other court fees are payable to the Clerk of the Circuit Court. Under no circumstances are DJJ employees or contracted agents authorized to accept restitution payments in any form.  Do not give restitution money to your child’s JPO or other contracted agent providing supervision of your child.

  • Q: Where is my child going to be?
    A: In Florida, only a judge can place a youth into a Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) commitment program level.  While every attempt is made to keep your child close to home, a bed at the appropriate commitment level may not be near your home.  Based on the judge’s decision regarding your child’s commitment level, your child may be sent to a commitment program that is in a different region of the state.  There are the five levels of commitment.  The restrictiveness levels of commitment or placement represent increasing restrictions on your child’s movement and freedom.  
    The least restrictive, or minimum-risk level, is a non-residential commitment.  This level of commitment means that your child will stay at home with you.  A minimum-risk commitment program is part of the Department’s Probation and Community Intervention rather than Residential Services.

    Your child’s juvenile probation officer (JPO) should be able to tell you what commitment level your child will be going to and to what program.  View written descriptions of each residential commitment program, its services, a map with directions, and contact information

  • Q: What medical care will my child receive?
    A: All youth receive an initial health screening within 24 hours of admission.  A detailed health history of your child is conducted by nursing staff and a physical examination is performed by the facility physician, ARNP or Physician Assistant.  All DJJ residential facilities have nursing staff on-site to meet your child’s medical needs and issues, including medication delivery.
  • Q: May I visit my child in a residential facility?
    A: Yes, you are encouraged to visit your child while he or she is in the residential commitment facility. Each residential program has scheduled visitation days and times.  The program will notify you of its visitation schedule.  If you are not able to visit during the scheduled days and times, contact your child’s social worker at the program to make other arrangements. Contact your facility/program for visitation days/hours.

Probation - Transition & Reentry


What We Do

  • JPO helps youth transition back into community.
  • Youth may be served by a Community Reentry Team.

FAQs


  • Q: How can I have my child’s juvenile record sealed or expunged?
    A: Your child’s criminal history records may be sealed (kept confidential) or expunged (destroyed) as governed by Ch. 943, F.S., which is administered by FDLE.

    While juvenile records are considered confidential, they are not automatically sealed and—in many instances—can be accessed by the general public through local law enforcement. For most, but not all purposes, the subject of a sealed or expunged criminal history record may lawfully deny or fail to acknowledge arrests that are covered by the sealing or expunction.

    Generally speaking, juveniles can have most misdemeanors (and some felonies) sealed and most misdemeanors expunged after successful completion of a diversion program that expressly authorizes that to be done.

    A fingerprint card and application, along with a fee, must be submitted to FDLE after the State Attorney’s Office certifies statutory eligibility (for expunctions). After FDLE issues a certification of eligibility, a petition is filed with the court to have the record sealed or expunged. A lawyer may assist you in this process.

  • Q: What must my child know about completing an employment application?
    A: It is essential to give complete and accurate information on an employment application. Most applications ask, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”

    A conviction is a term applicable to a child who has been tried and convicted or pleads guilty in Adult Court.

    If your child pleads guilty or is found guilty as a juvenile in Juvenile Court, it is an adjudication of delinquency and not deemed a conviction §985.35(6), F.S.

    However, this does not mean that your child’s potential employer will not find out about his juvenile arrest record. Most employers conduct a comprehensive background search that is completed by FDLE, the state agency that keeps all records of criminal history in the State of Florida. A copy of this criminal record can be obtained from FDLE.