Juvenile Defense in Polk County

Parents often wonder whether they should hire a juvenile defense attorney when a child is arrested or detained for a crime. An attorney can step in at the earliest stages of the case before the child speaks to the authorities.

Proceeds for children in Polk County’s juvenile delinquency courtrooms required an experienced attorney. The attorney can help ensure the case is resolved on the best terms.

Even if a diversion program is offered, a criminal defense attorney can help negotiate the best terms so the child can complete the requirements quickly.

If a child is taken into custody, the Juvenile Detention Hearing is conducted at the Central County Jail Annex in Bartow, FL, located at 2390 Bob Phillips Road, just south of Polk County Human Services. The judge begins the hearings at 8:15 a.m. on holidays and weekends.

An attorney can represent the child during the detention hearing to request that the child be released to the parents instead of spending 21 days in the juvenile detention center.

Juvenile Defense Attorney in Polk County, FL

If your child was accused of a crime, contact an experienced juvenile defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm. We can help you fight the case from the earliest stages through the final resolution.

Although the purpose of the juvenile justice system in Polk County, FL, is to reduce juvenile delinquency through effective intervention and treatment services that strengthen the lives of children, we know overly aggressive prosecutors often take a heavy-handed approach.

An experienced juvenile delinquency attorney can level the playing field by fighting for the best result.

If the child is innocent or the charge can’t be proven at trial, the best result is an outright dismissal.

Our attorneys are experienced with the separate divisions for juvenile delinquency proceedings in Polk County, FL. Don’t face the judge alone.

Call 813-250-0500.

Accessing Juvenile Justice Records in Polk County, FL

Administrative Order Number 6-4.1, which took effect on April 3, 2013, explains the procedures for accessing juvenile court records in Polk County, FL.

Under Florida’s Juvenile Justice Act, Florida Statute 39.001, all official records regarding juvenile cases must be kept confidential with some exceptions.

For example, juvenile records may be inspected by persons the Court finds to “have a proper interest,” including criminal defense attorneys, parents, or guardians.

The juvenile delinquency section of the Public Defender’s Office (hereinafter “PD”) and the juvenile division of the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel for the Second DCA Region of Florida (hereinafter “RCC”) handle a significant percentage of the cases appearing before the Juvenile Court.

As a result, those entities also need access to juvenile records and docket information even before being appointed as the child’s attorney.

For these reasons, the administrative order provides the following:

  1. If an attorney represents a juvenile charged by Petition Alleging Delinquency and the attorney appears at the Clerk’s Office, then the attorney will be deemed to be a person having “a proper interest.” Without further Order of the court, that attorney will be permitted to inspect juvenile delinquency records for any juvenile that the attorney certifies is to be a witness at an adjudicatory hearing or a possible co-defendant in the pending case.
  2. The Clerk of Court in Polk County, FL, is authorized to allow the juvenile division of the Public Defender’s (PD) office and the juvenile division of the Regional Counsel for the Second DCA Region of Florida (RCC) access to juvenile records before the appointment on a case, including all written printouts obtained from such records. The juvenile division of the RCC shall also have access to daily dependency and shelter dockets.
  3. Information obtained pursuant to this Order must be used exclusively for the preparation and presentation of a juvenile dependency or delinquency case. The confidentiality of individual juveniles and other information, as mandated by the provisions of chapter 39 of the Florida Statutes, shall be protected by the attorney at all times during and following the conclusion of the pending dependency or delinquency case.

Before June 19, 2017, most juvenile defendants in Polk County, FL, received a formal arrest record. In June of 2017, the State Attorney’s Office in Bartow, FL, collaborated with several agencies in Polk County to create a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the intention of minimizing the criminal history of juveniles who commit eligible, non-serious criminal acts.

The program started on June 19, 2017. Through the remainder of the year, more than 1,700 juveniles were entered on the “Prevention Web.” As a result, these minor children will not receive a formal arrest record as long as they successfully complete Teen Court.

Additional Resources

Polk County’s Department of Juvenile Justice Education Program – Visit the website of the Polk County School System to learn more about the Department of Juvenile Justice Education Programs for students who have been adjudicated and assigned to the Department of Juvenile Justice programs by the courts. The program manages a 200-bed facility that serves Level 6 juvenile offenders placed by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. Children housed in the residential program are 16 to 19 years of age and stay for an average of 9 months. The Sunshine Youth Services and the Department of Juvenile Justice operate a 20-bed maximum capacity residential commitment facility for moderate risk Level 6 program for boys, ages 10 to 14. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office Juvenile Center operates a residential facility that serves youth detained pending placement, disposition, or adjudication in a commitment facility.

Polk Residential Facilities for Juveniles – The Polk Halfway House provides children aged 14 to 18 with a non-secure residential commitment program focused on treating mental health and substance abuse issues. The Polk County School District provides educational services within the facility.

This article was last updated on Thursday, March 16, 2023.