Juvenile Law Procedure

Helping Children & Youthful Offenders in Tampa Bay


The Florida Juvenile Court system flows will along the following path. It’s important to obtain immediate help from a Clearwater criminal defense lawyer Robert Hambrick who knows the Juvenile System and knows how to best help your child.


  1. Law enforcement makes an investigation which may include the arrest of your child, evidence gathering and witness as well as victim statements about the incident.
  2. A detention hearing is heard by the Judge to determine if your child should stay incarcerated or be free pending resolution of the case. Usually the Judge will look at the safety of the community as well as your child’s benefit.
  3. The prosecution investigates the alleged criminal acts of your child to determine what if any charges to file and whether to file those charges as felonies. Also, the prosecution may file charges on your child as an adult. It’s very important at this time to have the direct intervention of an effective Tampa Bay Criminal Law Attorney.
  4. Your child will be given a Court date from the Pinellas County Clerk’s Office for what is known as an arraignment. The purpose of an arraignment is for your Child (and possibly his parents) to be informed of the nature of all of the chages including any amended or new charges brought by the State Attorney’s Office and for the Court to make certain that the child has appropriate legal representation. Further, the child’s Clearwater Criminal Lawyer enters a plea of guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere (this plea is also known as no contest and means that the Child is neither pleading guilty nor not guilty) to the charge. If a plea of “not guilty” is entered, the case proceeds to what is known as a Pretrial and eventually if there is no plea then to a nonjury trial before the presiding Judge. However, when the attorney for your child enters a plea of “guilty” or “no contest” the child may be sentenced at that time or the case may be set for a disposition hearing if more time is needed by any of the participants at the plea.Juvenile Courtroom in Pinellas Florida where Robert Hambrick Clearwater Criminal Lawyer defends clients
  5. The Discovery process requires that when your St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Lawyer demands discovery from the prosecution, the State must provide copies of the police reports, expert witnesses, victim statements and the defense may be able to do dopositions where witnesses must speak under oath prior to trial in the presence of a prosecutor and the statement taken by an Official Court Reporter. The victim, after receiving a subpoena from the defendant’s attorney, must appear to have the deposition taken. In Florida only felonies give the Defense an absolute right to depose witnesses even when the defendant is a child.
  6. The court will designate dates for pretrial conferences which is a hearing held prior to trial to determine the goals, motions, and readiness for trial of the parties. The Child and his Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney are required to appear in Court, and this is the time when the best possible offer from the State or the Judge will be given to your child.
  7. If no agreement to plea can be made at the Pretrial a Non-Jury Trial will be held in front of the Juvenile Judge without a jury. Astonishingly under Florida Law, children in the state of Florida do not have the right to a Jury Trial. The child does not have to testify nor does the child have to present any witnesses on his or her behalf, but at least the child does have the right to be in the courtroom during the trial. Some rights still apply to children and young adults under Florida Statutes. For example, under the right circumstances a Motion may be filed with the court such as when a Largo Criminal Defense Lawyer files a successful MOTION TO DISMISS UNDER THE YOUTHFUL OFFENDER STATUTE.
  8. The Court may request that the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) complete what is known as a Pre-Dispositional Report (this is known to lawyers as the PDR) on your child before sentencing. This report contains a sentencing recommendation for the Judge, based on what is suppose to be an unbiased account of your child’s life up to the point of sentencing, including insights into the background of your child, any psychological issues your child has face, any prior criminal history of your child with all of the facts and circumstances of the child so that the Judge can make an informed decision at sentencing based on all of the facts surrounding the child and his or her life.Pinellas Judicial Detention Center where Clearwater Defense Attorney Robert Hambrick helps young clients
  9. The Judge sentences your child at what is known as the final Disposition Hearing taking into account the PDR with the facts and circumstances of the case. If after listening to the prosecutor and your Clearwater Crime Defense Lawyer present evidence, facts and law, the Judge finds your child is guilty of a crime the Judge has the authority under Florida Statutes to sentence your child.
  10. The judge may place the defendant on juvenile probation.
  11. The Judge may commit your child to the Pinellas Juvenile Detention Center at one of four levels which include the following programs: Low risk programs that last from 30-45 days; Moderate risk programs last from four to six months; High risk programs last from six to nine months, and Juvenile Prison that lasts from 18-36 months. Often the Judge may include a period of probation which the child must also serve successfully.
  12. Should your child fail to comply with his or her probationary requirements the Judge will set a compliance hearing at which the child’s attendance will be mandatory. At the compliance hearing your child will be confronted with the possibility of further punishment if the terms of the probation including any court ordered restitution for the victim and court costs are not met.
  13. The Judge at sentencing may also include a period of probation which your child must serve successfully to have the probationary period terminated. Should your child fail to comply with these probationary requirements the Judge will set what is known as a compliance hearing with the possibility of further punishment if the terms of the probation are not met. These terms usually include any court ordered restitution for the victim and court costs for the case.

If your child is facing criminal charges you need to understand your child’s rights and obligations. Your child’s reputation and future are at risk. Call Robert Hambrick right now and he’ll talk about your child’s situation and give you the help you need.