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Purpose clauses, 2016

  • No clause

  • Parens patriae

  • Due process era

  • Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)

  • Developmental Approach

Florida's purpose clauses are found in two statutory sections (one for general purposes, and one for legislative intent) and are more detailed than most states.  The clauses retain traces of parens patriae language, due process and BARJ elements, and phrases from the Adoption and Safe Families Act (1997) were also noted.  The state has aligned early with the Developmental Approach shift in that it mentions a commitment to standardized assessments, resource allocations for the most effective programs provided when there is most impact, and increasing the capacity of local government, public and private agencies and provide research, evaluation, and training services in the field of juvenile delinquency prevention. Gender specific programming, substance abuse services, prevention, diversion, trauma-informed care, family and community engagement service types are also described.

47 FL ST §985.01; § 985.02

Intake and diversion, 2016

Initial intake and court diversion decision is at the discretion of the prosecutor.

In Florida, the state attorney/prosecutor (DA) makes diversion decisions or may designate diversion decisions to others. When the chief judge of the circuit, public defender, and head of each local law enforcement agency involved concur (by written agreement), a law enforcement agency or school district in cooperation with the DA may establish prearrest or post-arrest diversion criteria and programs as an alternative to taking youth into custody. These programs are extensive in Florida, and include community arbitration or other diversionary programs where the law enforcement officer may require youth to work and report to a community service performance monitor in lieu of referral to court. Statute generally permits civil citation initiatives for misdemeanors, but if the youth fails to comply or commits a 3rd misdemeanor, the officer must send a complaint alleging delinquency to the (executive branch) Department of Juvenile Justice or designee (JPO) to initiate court intervention.

Upon receipt of the complaint, the JPO conducts/ensures a comprehensive screening and makes recommendations to the DA and the court, but the DA makes the ultimate decision to divert for non-judicial handling or to file the delinquency petition. When diverted, JPO is responsible to make referrals and monitor compliance with conditions that can include: Community Arbitration, Juvenile Alternative Services Program, Teen Court, Intensive Delinquency Diversion Services (IDDS), Civil Citation programs, Boy and Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, mentoring programs, and alternative schools, etc. Timelines and criteria vary by jurisdiction.

Once a petition is filed, after finding of fact that the juvenile committed a delinquent act or violation of law, the judge may offer to withhold adjudication, upon the juvenile’s consent, to participate in a probation program with imposed conditions that can include restitution, community service, a curfew, urine monitoring, revocation or suspension of the driver license of the child, or other nonresidential punishment, substance abuse treatment, or school attendance/program, etc. Youth accused of certain drug-related offenses may be eligible for a pre-trial treatment-based drug court program. Agreements usually specify that charges will be dismissed upon successful completion of the program/s. Felonious delinquency adjudications disqualify a person from lawfully possessing a firearm until the person reaches age 24.

Pre-petition court diversion time limit/s exist.

In Florida, diversion timelines are not limited by statute.

Courtroom shackling, 2015

Restricted by judiciary

Florida’s Court Rule of Juvenile Procedure § 8.100(b)  (p. 62, updated 2/26/15) prohibits routine use of restraints. Restraints must be removed prior to appearance unless the court finds:

  1. It is necessary [to prevent harm to self/others-w/evidence of recent behavior, substantial flight risk, or history of disruptive courtroom behavior (has criteria)] and
  2. No less restrictive alternatives exist (w/examples).

Competency, 2015

Florida has detailed requirements related to juvenile competency in juvenile statute as well as juvenile court rule, and (adult) criminal court rules may apply. The Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Children and Families must both be notified of all competency proceedings. Evaluation criteria are specified (age or immaturity; mental illness; intellectual disability or autism, or any other reason). The reports of at least 2 (no more than 3) court-appointed evaluators are reviewed. Court orders finding incompetency must state whether youth are in need of secure or non-secure placement and/or treatment/training. Statute assigns particular agencies responsible for dispositions, case management, supervision, and planning consultation according to the bases for incompetency. Treatment and discharge plans are reviewed by the court at least every 6 months for up to 2 years. If, at that point there is no evidence the child will attain competency within one year, the court must dismiss the delinquency petition.

  • No juvenile standard

  • Juvenile standard is the adult standard

  • Juvenile justice standard exists

  • JJ standard includes developmental immaturity

Sex offender registration, 2015


About this project

Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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