Tampa Juvenile Defense Lawyer

Help for Juvenile Offenders

The philosophy of the juvenile justice system has always been to treat a juvenile offender differently than adults. The courts recognize that a younger person generally lacks the same decision making capacity as a more mature offender and have therefore adopted a more rehabilitative approach to sentencing. Accordingly, there are a number of programs available that aim to prevent and reduce acts of delinquency by addressing such issues as truancy, substance abuse, and mental illness. Not unlike adult court, juvenile offenders often complete the requirements of their sentence while on probation, or through a juvenile diversion program.

The Tampa criminal defense attorney at The Law Office of Timothy Hessinger defends juvenile clients against charges for:

How are minors punished in Tampa?

While the philosophical approach is well defined, juvenile offenders can nonetheless be subject to more punitive sanctions depending on the nature and extent of their prior contacts with the juvenile justice system, and the severity of their current offense. Minimum risk non-residential programs are for those offenders who represent little risk to themselves or the public and do not require services in a residential setting. Here, the offender continues to reside in the community and participates in a day treatment program, five days per week. Low risk residential programs are for offenders that represent a low risk to themselves or the public and require services in a residential setting.

The offender may, however, be allowed to have unsupervised access to the community. Moderate risk residential programs are for those offenders who represent a moderate risk to public safety and require close supervision. These facilities are secure, with perimeter walls, fencing and/or locking doors. The offender may have supervised access to the community. High risk residential programs are for higher risk offenders and do not typically allow access to the community. These facilities have perimeter fencing, locking doors, and may also have single cell occupancy. Maximum risk residential facilities include juvenile correctional facilities and juvenile prisons. The duration is of a longer term and there is no access to the community. These facilities also have perimeter fencing, locking doors and single cell occupancy.

Juvenile Court vs. Criminal Court

If the offender is seventeen years old, the prosecutor has the option of removing the case to adult court for disposition. Usually, this occurs with more serious offenses and significantly increases the offender's exposure to punitive sanctions, including prison time. At the time of sentencing, however, the adult court judge has the discretion to "sentencing back", which means the offender is sentenced as a juvenile and juvenile sanctions are imposed. If the court declines to sentence back, and the offender is scoring state prison on the sentencing guidelines, or is subject to a minimum mandatory sentence for a narcotics or firearms offense, the court can still impose a non-incarcerative sentence under most circumstances because of the offender's age.

Contact The Law Office of Timothy Hessinger

At The Law Office of Timothy Hessinger we are very familiar with the rules and procedures applicable to juvenile offenders, and work zealously to attain the best possible results for our clients. Depending on the circumstances, this may involve avoiding a conviction, incarceration in a juvenile facility, or in an adult facility. Consistent with the rehabilitative philosophy of the juvenile system, we work to address the underlying causes of our client's legal predicament by ensuring that the full range of juvenile services are made available to them, as appropriate. Any criminal charges a minor may face require powerful defense. Contact a Tampa criminal defense lawyer from our team immediately to help protect your child and their rights.

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