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Juvenile Defense Attorneys in Pasco County

When a young person under the age of eighteen (18) years old is accused of a crime, the case goes through the juvenile justice system. Like adults, juveniles have a constitutional right to remain silent and to have an attorney assist them at every stage of a criminal investigation.

If there is probable cause that the child committed a delinquent act, the child is often taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center at the Pasco Sheriff’s Office in Land O’Lakes, FL. Sometimes the child is immediately released to the parents.

In other cases, the child will attend a first appearance hearing in front of the judge the next morning at the courthouse in New Port Richey or Dade City. At first appearance, the court will decide whether the child should be held in secure detention for 21 days at the Pasco Regional Juvenile Detention Center at 28534 State Road 52 in San Antonio, FL.

A criminal defense attorney can attend this first appearance hearing to explain all of the reason that the child should be released to the parents instead of being held for 21 days.

After the first appearance, the prosecutor at the State Attorney’s Office will take 21 days to decide whether to file a petition which is the document that contains the formal charges. Although the vast majority of these cases, when the charges are particularly serious, the State Attorney’s Office might decide to prosecute the case in adult court.

The goal in these cases is convincing the prosecutor not to file any charges. If a petition for a felony is filed by the prosecutor in juvenile court, it can trigger the child’s school to take action to change the child’s placement to an alternative school. For all of these reasons, it is important to retain a private attorney as early in the process as possible.

The goal of the juvenile defense attorney is helping the child resolve the case under the best possible terms for any juvenile delinquency proceedings in the Sixth Judicial Circuit in Pasco County.

Attorneys Defending Juveniles in New Port Richey, FL

With offices in New Port Richey, FL, our juvenile defense attorneys represent young people during all stages of the juvenile justice process including the initial intake, the arraignment on the formal charges, an adjudicatory hearing, disposition hearings or sentencing.

After the child is initially detained, the court can impose one of three forms of detention while the case is pending including home detention, non-secure detention, or secure detention. We can help you ask the court to release your child to your care while the case is pending so the child is not held in secure detention.

We can help the child understand the charges pending against them and the best way to fight the charges. Contact a criminal defense attorney in New Port Richey, FL, for more information regarding the stages of the criminal and juvenile justice process.

Our offices are conveniently located at 7509 Little Road, New Port Richey, FL 35654, right across from the juvenile court located at the West Pasco Judicial Center.

Call (813) 250-0500.

Judges for Juvenile Court in Pasco County

The judge assigned to juvenile delinquency cases in West Pasco at the courthouse in New Port Richey, FL, is the Honorable Philippe Matthey. At the courthouse in Dade City, Judge Linda H. Babb presides over all juvenile delinquency cases.

Juvenile Diversion Programs in Pasco County

In some cases, the charges might be dropped if the child agrees to voluntarily enter a diversion program. The diversion programs for juvenile cases in Pasco County, FL, provide a path to getting the charges dismissed while decreasing the number of cases resolved in formal court proceedings in juvenile court.

A diversion program provides an alternative to an adjudicatory hearing by placing the child in a community-based program such as:

The State Attorney’s Office in Pasco County offers several different types of diversion programs for young people in juvenile court. The pros and cons of entering a diversion program must be considered carefully.

An experienced juvenile justice defense attorney can help you decide whether entering the program is appropriate and negotiate the best possible terms.

If the diversion program is completed successfully, then the case might be eligible for a special type of expunction called the “Juvenile Diversion Expunction” under Section 943.0582, F.S.

Definitions in the Juvenile Justice Process in Pasco County, FL

The following definitions are used in the juvenile justice system in Pasco County, FL:

  • Juvenile Intake – The process of determining where a child under the age of 18 will be placed until the juvenile delinquency case is resolved. In Florida, the three forms of detention status include:
    • home detention;
    • non-secure detention; or
    • secure detention.
  • Diversion Program – In Pasco County, FL, juvenile diversion programs are an alternative to trial. If the juvenile successfully completes the diversion program, then the charges are generally dismissed. Those community-based diversion programs include:
    • juvenile arbitration
    • juvenile alternative services program (JASP)
    • a treatment plan (Walker plan).
  • Formal charges – The filing of a petition in court by the State Attorney’s Office. The charge may be filed in either juvenile court or adult court, depending upon the crime and age of the offender.
  • Arraignment – The accused is formally charged and enters a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
  • Adjudicatory Hearing – The trial of the juvenile, conducted in front of a judge. The judge will decide whether the juvenile committed the charged offense(s).
  • Dispositional Hearing or Sentencing – When a juvenile is found to have committed a delinquent act the court will hold a dispositional hearing to determine which sanctions to impose on the juvenile. The sanctions could range from community-based sanctions like probation and community services up to residential commitment.

Additional Resources

Clerk of Juvenile Court in Pasco County, FL – Visit the clerk’s office in Pasco County, to learn more about the juvenile department of the clerk’s office that handles accusation against young people under the age of 18 years old who are accused of a delinquent act that would be a crime if committed by an adult.

Juvenile Choice Program in Pasco County – Visit the website of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office to learn more about the Juvenile Choice Program, an hour-long powerpoint presentation that shows stories of inmates explaining how bad choices resulted in being locked up behind bars. The program is shown to juveniles in the court-mandated monthly Juvenile Arbitration program at Pasco Safety Town.

Pasco Juvenile Detention Center – Visit the website of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice to learn more about the Pasco Juvenile Detention Center in San Antonio, FL. This 36-bed secure facility serves young people detained in the various circuit courts pending adjudication, disposition or placement in commitment facility. The facility allows visitation options for parents, grandparents, legal guardians, as well as legal counsel and other professionals.

Juvenile Justice Process in Pasco County – Visit the website of the State Attorney’s Office for the Sixth Judicial Circuit in Pasco County to learn more about the juvenile justice process including the initial intake, the arraignment on the formal charges, an adjudicatory hearing, disposition hearings, or sentencing.

This article was last updated on Tuesday, August 13, 2019.

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