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Juvenile Drug Court in Hillsborough County

For juveniles charged with drug crimes in Hillsborough County, FL, the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office might offer to resolve the case in Juvenile Drug Court. JDC is a  diversion and intervention program for young people accused of drug-related offenses or acknowledge a history of substance abuse upon arrest for nonviolent
offenses.

Drug court is typically offered to juveniles for a first or second offense. The benefit of entering drug court is that if the child successfully completes the requirements, the charges are dismissed. If the juveniles is originally referred to the Juvenile Arbitration Program but fails to complete all the requirements, then the Juvenile Arbitration staff may recommend the child for the Juvenile Drug Court program.

Attorney for Juvenile Drug Court in Tampa

Drug court is not for every child. If the child is not guilty or the state attorney cannot prove the charges, then the child might be better off fighting the charges. The pros and cons of entering drug court must be considered carefully by the child and their parent.

Before you decide, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. We represent young people accused of a crime in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County, FL.

Call 813-250-0500 to speak with a juvenile defense attorney in Tampa, FL.

What Happens in JDC?

If after going over all the pros and cons of entering drug court, the juvenile want to resolve the case in JDC, then at the next court date, the child’s attorney will waive speedy and ask for the case to be transferred to Division E.

The juvenile court will then give a Wednesday date for Div E arraignment. At arraignment, the juvenile must appear with a parent at the jury auditorium by 7:45AM for orientation. The doors will be locked once the session starts. A tardy-bird juvenile will have to wait until the 9:30AM docket to get a new date for orientation.

At the orientation, the requirements of the Juvenile Drug Court in Hillsborough County, FL, will be fully explained to the child and their parent. A juvenile who does not wish to participate after the orientation may request to have the case returned to his home division to litigate.

The criminal defense attorney for the juvenile will obtain the contract and review the requirements with the juvenile. Then the child will meet with the program coordinator. The basic terms of the JDC contract require:

  • Waiver of speedy trial – The length of the program is determined by the juvenile’s treatment needs and compliance with all conditions, but most compliant juveniles seem to graduate in six to twelve months.
  • Complete a drug treatment program
    • The juvenile must complete DACCO, Phoenix House or a similar drug treatment program (if the juvenile is currently in a private treatment facility, you need to contact the program coordinator, Mr. Steve  Miller, to discuss whether that program is an acceptable substitution).
    • The juvenile will be evaluated by DACCO or Phoenix House to determine his treatment level.
    • It is possible for the recommendation to require in-patient treatment.
  • Complete any other special conditions – Any other conditions the court deems necessary including school attendance, curfew, study hours, or mental health treatment.

The Plea Hearing in Tampa’s Juvenile Drug Court

After the orientation, everyone will report to Div E for a change of plea hearing. The juvenile will enter a plea in abeyance. At the change of plea hearing:

  • The State will read a short probable cause statement.
  • The court will expect to juvenile to discuss his involvement in the charged offense as well as how he started using, with whom, etc.
  • The court may order the juvenile not to have contact with certain individuals or locations based on the PC presented by the State or the juvenile’s disclosure.
  • If the juvenile hasn’t started treatment and may still be using, the court will ask the juvenile for the last date of use.
  • The date of last use will help the treatment provider gage when the juvenile should start testing negative.
  • The court will also address the juvenile’s parents about other areas (such as school) where the juvenile needs improvement.

The First Status Date in Juvenile Drug Court

After the plea hearing, the juvenile will be given a status date in two weeks. Neither the juvenile nor the child’s criminal defense attorney will have to appear as long as the juvenile is compliant. His case will be reset for status every other week, but the juvenile MAY not have to appear until graduation as long as the child is compliant.


Non-Compliance – Order to Show Cause in JDC

If the juvenile is non-compliant with the requirements of the Juvenile Drug Court, then the juvenile will be notified by his counselor that he needs to appear at his next court date.

The court may verbally warn the juvenile, or assign additional conditions. The court might also file an Order to Show Cause. The order to show cause comes with a possibility of a 5 days or 15 days in secure detention.


Compliance – Graduation Day for JDC

When the service provider advises the court the juvenile has successfully completed treatment, the case will be set for a graduation day in Juvenile Drug Court. On that day, the juvenile will receive a certificate, best wishes from the court, and the case will be dismissed.


Additional Resources

Brochure for Juvenile Drug Court – Visit the website of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit to find information about juvenile drug court which provides judicial supervision for participants in treatment for substance abuse. Drug court in juvenile court provides a wide range of support services to address the problems leading to the involvement in the juvenile justice system. The drug court program in Tampa was established in February of 1996. Each year, ore than 300 young people enter the program. The drug court program is managed by the Administrative Office of the Courts in Tampa, FL.

Drug Courts in Florida – Visit the website of the Florida Courts to find information on problem solving courts including drug court. As of August 2019, the state of Florida had ninety-one (91_ drug courts in operation, including fifty-four (54) adult drug courts, twenty (20) juvenile drug courts, thirteen (13) family dependency drug courts, and four (4) DUI courts.


This article was last updated on Friday, August 16, 2019.

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