The purpose of this brochure is to provide some basic information to you while you are dealing with a very difficult situation. This brochure is not intended to be an all encompassing explanation of the juvenile justice system. The pathway through the juvenile justice system can vary significantly from one person to another based on many different factors, such as the type of offense charged, the severity of the offense, prior offenses, current probationary status, and the attitude of the juvenile. It is important for you to cooperate with the Department of Juvenile Justice case worker assigned to your case so that you understand completely what is happening.
Q: I’ve just been arrested. What’s next?
A: Depending on the offense, you will be issued either a notice to appear in court or taken to a facility for booking. Your parent or guardian will be notified and required to respond to sign your notice to appear.
Q: When do I get to go home?
A: Depending on the severity of the offense and other factors, you may be released to your parent/guardian, placed on home detention, or held in secure detention.
Q : How long can I be held in detention?
A: That will be determined at a detention hearing that will be held within 24 hours. All juveniles held in secure or home detention must appear for this hearing. The judge will determine whether to continue or modify your detention status.
Q: What happens after the hearing?
A: All juveniles not currently on supervision go through an intake counselor. Their cases are reviewed and background investigations are conducted. Recommendations are then made to the State Attorney’s Office.
Q: What type of recommendations?
A: Based on individual circumstances and published guidelines, the Intake Counselor will recommend to the State Attorney’s Office to drop charges, divert the juvenile to a non judicial program, or to file charges and take the juvenile to court. The State Attorney may choose to accept these recommendations or proceed at their own discretion.
Q: What happens in court?
A: You will have the opportunity to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty, just like any other person. Should you enter a plea of guilty or be found guilty, the judge has discretion in sentencing based on prior history, seriousness of the offense, and your attitude.
Q: If I am being charged as an adult, does this make a difference?
A: Yes. If you are charged as an adult and found guilty, you are no longer covered under juvenile statutes. Any further offenses will be considered adult offenses. This means that you can be held in an adult jail or prison rather than in a juvenile detention center.
Q: How much is this going to cost my parents?
A: Costs of defense attorneys vary. You may be eligible for a public defender should you choose. Some diversion programs have costs involved and these must be discussed with your DJJ counselor. There is a charge assessed to parents of $1 per day for time juveniles spend in home detention and probation, and $5 per day for secure detention and commitment programs.