Rehabilitation Vs. Punishment

As with many states, Florida takes the stance that rehabilitation over punishment, especially for minors, is crucial to mitigating the risk of re-offending later in life. Juveniles are often kept apart from adult offenders to reduce the risk of them picking up bad habits or latching onto a lifestyle they may have not otherwise experienced or been attracted to.

If the minor has multiple offenses or an especially heinous charge, they may have no choice but to be placed with adult offenders.

Examples of Juvenile Misdemeanors

Juvenile misdemeanors can take on various forms but are typically things like vandalism, petty theft, or underage drinking. Trespassing, drug abuse, or simple assault may also be examples of juvenile misdemeanors.

If juveniles were punished rather than rehabilitated, not only would these offenses likely lead to further offenses as they mature, but the chance to get to the root cause or offer guidance to a high-risk youth may be lost at a pivotal time in the child’s life.

Additionally, without the option to remove misdemeanors from the child’s record, they are limited to education choices or job opportunities that they may otherwise have qualified for, therefore reducing or affecting their options for success for decades.

Florida Department of Juvenile Justice

The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice is tasked with gathering data to help analyze trends in at-risk juveniles and how to mitigate them. From civil citations and diversion programs to where offenses occur (schools, public places, in homes) and more. 

Civil citation is an example of a diversion strategy used to address juvenile behavior at their first encounter with law enforcement. It is a program implemented to provide better youth outcomes by intervening at what may be the most critical time in the youth’s life.

For example, some valuable information that can be found on their site states: “Civil citation allows youth to receive sanctions, assessments, and intervention services to address the issues driving their behavior while holding them immediately accountable for their actions.” It goes on to discuss how Florida is leading the charge on civil citations and, in recent years, with an 80% completion rate of a civil citation program, only 4% re-offended after the course.

Juvenile Diversion Program

Oftentimes, the Juvenile Diversion Program may be an excellent solution for your minor child. The Juvenile Diversion Program offers first-time misdemeanor offenders a diversion program rather than a punishment. Once successfully completed, the minor can typically have the misdemeanor dismissed.

The program aims to divert those with minor offenses through a program rather than through the court system so that the courts can reserve the time necessary for more serious offenders. It also aims to help prevent the youth’s further involvement in the criminal justice system as they mature.

Diversion Program Benefits

Rather than punishing or detaining juveniles, diversion programs attempt to manage the youth as an individual and how they relate to society as a whole. These efforts may mean counseling, treatment, or other alternatives are required to get to the root cause of the child’s behaviors and help foster better decisions as they mature.

A criminal record can remain with your child for many years and become a haunting reminder while they apply for jobs or colleges. With the successful completion of a program, these misdemeanor charges can typically be dropped or dismissed, allowing the reputation of your minor child to be untarnished.

Communities as a whole also benefit significantly from diversion programs. Youth are a pivotal part of our society. If youth are rehabilitated or further nurtured through diversion and other programs, they can positively influence the youth around them. Society can reap the benefits of a safer community based on better choices and, therefore, less criminal activity in our communities.

How Can an Attorney Help With Juvenile Offenses?

Immediately following an arrest or investigation regarding offenses, a juvenile may be held in a detention facility. Typically, your child will undergo an interview process regarding their home life, school life, and more. This information is typically gathered to help formulate diversion program data and determine what options are available for the juvenile offender.

Your experienced attorney can tirelessly fight for your minor child to help ensure they have the best options available, whether it’s being released to return home, having opportunities for diversion programs where necessary, and more. If your child has multiple offenses, your attorney can provide valuable guidance on the charges and offer advocacy for your child in court to help better their chances of avoiding harsh penalties.

Your attorney can also help provide evidence of good moral character or reputation of your child and your family throughout the process, assuring the courts that this was a one-time mistake and not the beginning stages of lifelong criminal behavior. This evidence can significantly help the options for diversion programs or other interventions rather than a charge being on their record.

The experience behind our law firm is unique in that Chad had a respected career in criminal prosecution before becoming a criminal defense attorney. This perspective allows him and his team to view charges from the other side of the courtroom to anticipate their moves and effectively fight against them.

We strongly believe that a mistake in the early years of your child’s life should not haunt them forever. We offer free consultations to new clients. Call us today at (786) 933-6242 to schedule some time to discuss your concerns and questions.