Reduction in Juvenile Arrests Due to Diversion Programs Promoted by the State
Being a criminal defendant in the Florida criminal system can be very confusing and difficult. Many are unfamiliar with the charges being brought against them and even fewer are really aware of the possible conviction consequences that may be applied to them for past indiscretions. Sadly, being a juvenile in the Florida criminal justice system can be even scarier due to the fact that Florida transfers more juveniles to adult court than any other state through direct file. Direct file gives the prosecution the choice of whether or not to charge a juvenile as an adult, with the possibility of facing adult consequences.
The Statistics Surrounding the Reduction in Juvenile Arrests
There has been a serious push by the state, however, to protect misguided youth from a incarcerated future. According to the Department of Juvenile Justice and data collected regarding the arrest records for juveniles, there has been a significant decrease in the number of juveniles arrested and taken to court to face charges. In the 2014-2015 fiscal year in Florida, there were 75,066 juvenile arrests over the year. This was a 4 percent decrease from the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which saw 78,330 arrests. In Monroe County, for example, in the Florida Keys, the numbers they reported show not only a decrease in juvenile arrests from the previous year but since 2014, there has been a 7 percent drop in major crimes for both juveniles and adults. Major crimes are generally identified as murder, burglary, aggravated assault, forcible rape, larceny and vehicle theft.
The Purpose behind Juvenile Diversion Programs for First-Time Offenders
The reason for the major reduction in juvenile arrests has been a push in several counties to construct and implement juvenile diversion programs for first time juvenile offenders. Juvenile diversion programs provide the opportunity for officers to issue civil citations to first-time offending juveniles, rather than arresting them.
Diversion Program Requirements and Sanctions
Though the program is generally on a case-by-case basis and is in the discretion of the officer to issue a citation over an arrest, the juvenile is forced to consider his or her actions through one of several methods. Some of the sanctions that may be enforced by the civil citations are:
- Restitution to be paid by the juvenile’s parents in the case of damage to or theft of private property;
- Community services hours to be performed by the youth;
- Enforcement of a curfew of the minor for a period of time; or
- The writing of an apology letter or essay describing why the youth’s actions were wrong.
In other cases, the sanctions may be directly related to the crime or offense committed by the youth. For example, in the case where the youth would’ve been arrested otherwise for an assault, he or she may be forced to go through anger management counseling. Also, with regards to drug-related offenses, a youth may be forced into a separate drug program that would focus on individuals with drug addiction or abuse issues. The drug program may require the youth to be committed to a drug treatment facility or could receive outpatient treatment, depending on the severity of the addiction.
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale
Whether you are an adult or a juvenile charged with an offense, it is important to be represented by a dedicated advocate like Kevin J. Kulik who can provide guidance and support throughout your criminal proceedings. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.