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Juvenile Diversion Programs

The state of Florida allows offenders to participate in diversion programs if they’re eligible to avoid incarceration. What you might not know is that Florida offers similar programs to juvenile delinquents as well. Minors under the age of 18 can choose to complete a diversion programs developed by the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).

A diversion program is a state-designed initiative that emphasizes rehabilitation over incarceration for a crime. Many offenders will actively try to qualify for a diversion program so they can evade a lengthy jail or prison sentence. Juveniles aren’t detained in jail or prison, but they can be held in a detention center if they fit the criteria. The diversion programs allow juvenile offenders a chance to dodge time in a detention center and focus on rehabilitation.

If your or your child could benefit from a juvenile diversion program, then we recommend you contact an experienced juvenile delinquency attorney.

Attorney for Juvenile Diversion Programs in Fort Lauderdale, FL

If you or your child has been accused of a criminal offense, you need an attorney suited to fight for your cause. Our attorneys at Meltzer & Bell understand what it takes to admit a minor to a juvenile diversion program. They also have a thorough knowledge of all diversion programs in the area so they can advise you what the best option is to go with.

Contact our offices now at (954) 765-6585 and we’ll schedule your first consultation completely free. Our offices are open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, so your questions will never go unanswered. You can visit us at our office in Fort Lauderdale, but we practice throughout Broward County including Pembroke Pines, Hollywood and Coral Springs.

Overview of Juvenile Diversion Programs in Florida

How Does a Juvenile Diversion Program Work in Florida?

Juvenile diversion programs are state-run alternatives for minors who have been charged with a criminal offense. It allows the minor to avoid spending time in a detention center and has them focus on different types of rehabilitation so they can understand the gravity of their choices. Once the program has been completed, the charges will be dismissed entirely.

Diversion programs offer a wide array of services to rehabilitate their youthful candidates. Depending on the program, it could provide anger management classes, religious services, community service, educational instruction or any other character-building program. These options will not only teach the juvenile delinquent what happens to career criminals but will also give them a chance to circumvent any kind of detention.

Juvenile diversion programs may also have their participants do the following:

  • Taking a tour of jail or prison
  • Participate in youth or teen court;
  • Perform community service;
  • Take a tour of the jail;
  • Write a letter of apology;
  • Write an essay or essays;
  • Being subject to random drug testing; and
  • Restitution for theft or criminal mischief crimes

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Types of Juvenile Diversion Programs in Florida

Florida offers a variety of diversion programs around the state. Depending on your area, you could have more than one diversion program to choose from. Some of the most common juvenile diversion programs in Florida include the following:

Teen Court – One option is to participate in teen court instead of traditional juvenile court. Teen court is a program made by young adults and comprised entirely of teenagers. Some adults are there to ensure the court is running smoothly which can include state attorneys and current judges. The juvenile delinquent would appear in the court in front of a jury of minors to have their case examined.

Usually, the court will administer much lighter penalties than juvenile court. Some penalties include community service, an essay explaining their actions or participation in teen court as a juror. It’s important to know that teen court doesn’t allow juveniles charges with felonies to participate in the program.

Community Arbitration – Florida law allows the community to have a say in some juvenile delinquent crimes if they’re eligible. Community arbitration offers offender an alternative to detention by allowing trained volunteer arbitrators to assign appropriate sanctions instead. The arbitrator would meet up with the juvenile defendant and their family to discuss the case and what penalties would be most appropriate for their situation.

The following are some possible actions an arbitrator may decide after meeting with a juvenile.

  • Ask the state attorney to decline prosecuting the defendant;
  • Request the state attorney to give the defendant a warning instead;
  • Have the juvenile placed in a community-based non-residential program;
  • Implement juvenile or family to community counseling;
  • Refer the defendant to a work program that requires a maximum of 100 hours;
  • Have the juvenile volunteer for a maximum of 100 hours;
  • Order restitution for the child and their family to pay;
  • Continue the case for further investigation;
  • Require the defendant to undergo random drug testing; or
  • Impose any other restrictions or sanctions designed to rehabilitate the juvenile and is agreed on by all parties in the proceedings

Juvenile Alternative Service Program – If the state attorney and judge allow it, a defendant can complete an Alternative Service Program instead of detention. JASP is also known as the Juvenile Alternative Services Program. It requires youths to complete certain sanctions such as counseling or community service instead of being held in a detainment center.

In order to participate in JASP, the defendant must meet at least four of the following categories so they can be rehabilitated.

  • Issues with school;
  • Family dysfunction;
  • Substance abuse;
  • Mental health problems;
  • History with running away; and
  • Unstable housing

Juvenile First Offender Programs – A common diversion program in Florida is the First Offender Program. To participate, the offender must sign a statement admitting guilt as well as relinquish their right to due process. They will then be able to attend the program and complete its conditions to have their case dismissed. Some conditions include drug testing, paying restitution, and essays of apology.

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Additional Resources

Broward County Teen Court – Visit the official website for the 17th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida to read more about Broward County’s teen court. Access the site to learn more about what they offer, who’s involved and more.

Diversion Programs in Broward County – Visit the official website for the Broward County’s State Attorney. Access their site to learn about the different diversion programs offered to both teens and adults in the Broward County area.

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Juvenile Lawyers for Diversion Programs in Broward County, FL

Have you or your child been accused of a crime? Your best option may be to contact an experienced attorney to see if you qualify for a diversion program. Learn more about diversion programs and how to avoid detention by contacting the attorneys at Meltzer & Bell.

Our criminal defense team at Meltzer & Bell have been practicing in Florida’s courtrooms for over 20 years collectively. We can use this vast experience to assist you with your case. Contact us now at (954) 765-6585 to learn more. Our lawyers practice throughout the greater Broward County area including Pembroke Pines, Fort Lauderdale, and Hollywood.

This article was last updated on September 4, 2019.

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