Juvenile offenses or crimes in the Florida Panhandle can lead to serious penalties and repercussions, although you or your child may not realize how serious the consequences can be. These repercussions can include:
Although these punishments may seem severe, with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Destin, you do not necessarily have to face these repercussions. Occasionally, the prosecutor will agree to allow the juvenile offender to participate in certain programs as opposed to serving time in a detention center.
These programs can include teen court, diversion programs, probation and deferred adjudication. Therefore, it is essential to contact a knowledgeable juvenile defense lawyer in the Florida Panhandle to help represent your best interests.
Contact Adkinson Law Firm, LLC for a consultation about your alleged juvenile offense or your child’s juvenile crime throughout the Florida Panhandle, including the areas of Crestview, South Walton, Fort Walton Beach, Milton, Navarre, Destin, Pensacola and Panama City. The attorneys of Adkinson Law Firm, LLC are knowledgeable in all areas of Florida’s juvenile laws and will make every effort to help you achieve the most desirable outcome for your particular situation.
Contact Adkinson Law Firm, LLC for a free consultation today at if you or your child have been charged with a juvenile offense throughout Destin and South Walton.
A juvenile or child is defined under Florida law as anyone under the age of 18. Juvenile delinquency is the commission of a misdemeanor or felony crime by anyone under the age of 18. After a juvenile has been arrested for committing a criminal offense, the Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) will conduct an interview during the intake process with the juvenile and their parents or guardian to discuss the offense allegedly committed. They will then create a plan that will address the following factors:
The Juvenile Probation Officer will also recommend whether to do any of the following during the intake process:
If the JPO recommends the juvenile to be admitted into a pre-trial diversion program, the alleged juvenile offender and their parent or guardian will sign a waiver of speedy trial agreement and agree to waive their right to a speedy trial and complete the terms and conditions of the diversion program.
If the juvenile’s criminal charges are presented to the court, the juvenile offender will have a trial in juvenile delinquency court, which is also known as the adjudicatory hearing, and the state prosecutor will attempt to prove the alleged offender committed a criminal offense. If the judge determines the juvenile offender has violated the law, the juvenile’s sentence will be determined at the disposition hearing. Depending on the offense, a juvenile offender may instead be tried in court as an adult and sentenced as an adult.
The penalties an adjudicated juvenile offender can face throughout the Florida Panhandle can include any of the following:
If a juvenile pled guilty or is found guilty of a criminal offense, they will receive a criminal record, which is kept by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice until the earliest of the following dates:
Unless the records are sealed or expunged, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice will keep a copy of the records, but they are not open to the public.
Instead of facing a sentence in a juvenile detention center and traditional juvenile prosecution by the Department of Juvenile Justice, the JPO may recommend the alleged offender to a juvenile diversion program. If the program is approved by the state prosecutor, the juvenile may then be admitted into the program if they waive their right to a speedy trial and complete all requirements of the program. These programs can include probation, teen court, arbitration, and the restitution, pay or appear program.
If the juvenile successfully completes the diversion program, the state attorney will not pursue any additional judicial action and the charges will be completely dismissed. If the program is not successfully completed, the attorney will file a petition that formally charges the juvenile with a criminal offense.
Many counties in the Florida Panhandle provide for a teen court for qualified juvenile offenders. This program is available for first-time misdemeanor and traffic offenders who are between the ages of 12 and 18 in Escambia County and 10 and 17 in Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Counties. Many offenses the teen court covers are:
The teen court programs are modeled after the judicial process and are operated by teen volunteers, judges, and adult volunteers. The volunteers will conduct a hearing for each case and decide on a sentence, which can include community service, drug testing, open court apology, apology letters, research projects or essays, counseling, restitution, educational classes, curfew and/or court or jail observations. If the alleged juvenile offender complies with all terms of their punishment within the specified time period, their case will be dismissed.
The teen courts provide an opportunity for juvenile offenders to be held accountable for their actions without having to face the traditional judicial system.
Florida’s Youthful Offender Act, as defined in Fla. Stat. § 958.04, provides for more lenient sentencing for youthful offenders who would normally be prosecuted in adult court, as opposed to juvenile court.
Anyone who is at least 18, but under the age of 21 when they committed a criminal offense and either pled guilty, not guilty or were found guilty may be eligible for a community control program or supervised probation instead of prosecution. The Youthful Offender Act also provides for mixed probation and prison or jail sentences. Anyone who committed a life or capital felony is not eligible for the program.
A youthful offender on probation or serving a mixed sentence will serve a maximum sentence of six years, and cannot be longer than the sentence they would have been given if sentenced with normal criminal penalties.
Florida Department of Juvenile Justice – The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice’s (DJJ) mission is to increase the public’s safety by reducing juvenile delinquency through treatment services, intervention, and prevention. The Okaloosa Regional Juvenile Detention Center is located at:Okaloosa Regional Juvenile Detention Center
Escambia County Teen Court – The Escambia County Teen Court Program is a voluntary diversion program for first-time offenders and gives at-risk juveniles an opportunity to participate in counseling services, educational classes, field trips and an introduction to the legal system. The teen court is located at:Escambia County Teen Court
Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Teen Court – The Teen Court for Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Counties is sponsored by the Lutheran Services of Florida, which provided fiscal, administrative and operational services for the program when funding by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice ran out of funding for the program in 2000.
First Judicial Circuit of Florida - Juvenile Delinquency – The First Judicial Circuit of Florida serves Okaloosa, Escambia, Santa Rosa and Walton Counties in Florida. This link provides access to frequently asked questions about juvenile issues and delinquency in the Florida Panhandle.
If you or your child have been accused of committing a juvenile crime anywhere in the Florida Panhandle, you should immediately seek legal counsel for help fighting the criminal charges. Adkinson Law Firm, LLC represents clients in areas throughout Okaloosa County, Santa Rose County, Bay County, Walton County, Holmes County, Washington County, and Escambia County.
Clay Adkinson of Adkinson Law Firm, LLC is an aggressive DeFuniak Springs criminal defense lawyer who will make every to fight the allegations against you. Contact Adkinson Law Firm, LLC today for a free consultation at or send an online message about your alleged juvenile offense today