Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

Do All Juveniles Go To A Juvenile Detention Center After An Arrest?

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

Juveniles do not automatically go to a detention center after an arrest. Many juveniles are released to their parents. In the juvenile system, there is a unique point sheet that has been setup by the Florida statutes, and quantified by Rule 8 of the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure. It is a scoresheet for what’s called a detention review hearing. If it looks like a juvenile is going to score too many points, according to this particular scoresheet, then the juvenile can be held in a juvenile jail, that in Florida they used to call a Juvenile Detention Center. This is effectively a juvenile jail, and is the last place you want your child to be. They will be associating with very rough young people, and your child is at risk of physical injury and emotional trauma. If the child is not granted some kind of court-ordered release at a detention review hearing, the default in most counties is that they are sent to the juvenile detention center for 21 days.

21 days in a juvenile detention center, in my view, can damage a young person’s brain. When we do our SPECT brain imaging cases, you can see that all kinds of things harm the human brain. Fortunately, many things help the human brain. When these young people have had their brains damaged, as a parent, that’s about the most horrifying thing that can happen. We all know that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder exists, as do many other kinds of mental health disorders. 21 days in a juvenile detention center is not going to be helpful to your child’s rehabilitation, if any rehabilitation is needed. While not all children go to the juvenile detention center, there is nothing more heart breaking than to have a crying parent on the phone who says something like, “My child had court this morning for this detention hearing, and was sentenced to 21 days in juvenile jail.”

They don’t understand that it’s the same as being arrested and held without being able to make bond as an adult. Many parents think the child has been sentenced. Even if the parent knows their child has not been sentenced and will have further court, it’s very upsetting for a parent who thinks they can handle this on their own. After all, they’ve told their child that they should at least tell the truth, and that they should cooperate with the police. They walk into this hearing against a well-trained Assistant State Attorney, and they are ambushed in front of a judge. They are basically defenseless, because when it’s their turn to speak, about all they can say is “We love our child and we will watch over him or her carefully.” The prosecution knows immediately how to rebut that with the greatest of ease, and much to their horrified surprise, they see their child leaving the detention review hearing with ankle cuffs, wrist cuffs, and a chain in-between them. They literally see their child chained and hauled to jail. We want to prevent that. If someone has the family member who is underage and is arrested, call immediately.

Are Juveniles Ever Detained At The Juvenile Detention Center Until A Court Hearing?

If a juvenile has been arrested and charged with a criminal offense, they are not waived over to adult court, and they score more than 12 points on a detention review scoresheet, then without some very skilled assistance by a well-trained criminal defense lawyer, they will be held in the juvenile detention center for 21 days. At that point, the idea is that the case will be concluded. Juvenile cases move at the speed of light compared to an adult criminal case, and there is tremendous pressure to get these cases kicked through the system as fast as possible. This is in part because there are so many of them, and in part because of the goals of sentencing, since they are so radically different from adult court. The goal of adult court sentencing is punishment, while the purpose of juvenile sentencing is rehabilitation. That’s one way a young person can end up in the juvenile detention center. They’ve been arrested, they haven’t had their trial, they haven’t even had their formal arraignment, the formal charging, and yet they are in the juvenile detention center for a minimum of 21 days. The second way is if someone is sentenced as a juvenile, and they are sentenced to the juvenile detention center until they turn 19 years of age.

We do our very best to keep juveniles out of the juvenile detention center, because our work with SPECT brain imaging has absolutely convinced me that when children are in the juvenile detention center, it damages their skill-developing brains. That’s the last thing that any parent would want to ever happen to their children. Because of this, we put a lot of time and effort into helping families through this difficult time. One of the most important things we do is work to keep them out of juvenile detention.

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

For more information on Juvenile Detention Centers In Florida, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (850) 423-0035 today.

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About the Author

Attorney Stephen G. Cobb provides personalized representation for Criminal Defense Cases in FL.