When a person under the age of eighteen is charged with a crime in Florida, the case is almost always set in the Juvenile Justice System.  This Juvenile Justice System differs from the general criminal justice system because the focus is on rehabilitation, rather than punishment.  While adult defendants may not be afforded leniency or counseling in lieu of incarceration, the juvenile courts are urged to consider alternative sanctions prior to sentencing a child to detention. State Attorneys, Judges, and program directors are all on the same page.  

How does the juvenile criminal justice system work? Call us now at 813-800-1111 for a free consultation with our attorney, Stefan Campagna, an expert in juvenile criminal defense.

Stefan is an experienced litigation attorney, especially when it comes to juvenile cases in Hillsborough and Sarasota Counties. Stefan has extensive knowledge of the system in which your case will be handled.  As a former juvenile defendant himself, Stefan understands the delicate approach needed to address both the legal issues in a juvenile case, as well as the personal issues which must be addressed to help the juvenile through this trying time.  Stefan understands the importance of expert legal representation, and the even greater importance of being able to communicate with his clients in order to provide them peace of mind during hard times.  You can read more about Stefan’s journey here (http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/LK/20130807/News/605203511/SH/).


One of the greatest opportunities that a child has in juvenile court is a chance for diversion.  At first, diversion offers might seem daunting to a parent, but they provide an excellent opportunity to both resolve a case and treat underlying issues.  Generally, diversion offers come with a dismissal of the case once the juvenile completes community service and suggested treatment.  At times, additionally terms might be added (such as classes, counseling, drug testing, etc.), but these requirements still come with the added benefit of the opportunity to have a clean record.

Direct File Adult Charges

While juvenile court does promote rehabilitative measures over punitive ones, there is never a guarantee or presumption that a child will not be detained.  In some circumstances, juvenile cases are “Direct Filed” to adult court. While infrequently done, direct filed cases are usually the result of a repeat juvenile offender who has committed a serious crime.  For years in Hillsborough County, former State Attorney Mark Ober was notorious for having the highest rate of direct file juveniles tried as adults. However, the newly elected State Attorney, Andrew Warren, has taken a different approach, choosing to focus more on rehabilitation for juvenile offenders.

The juvenile criminal justice system is complex and governed by an entirely different set of procedural rules than the adult court system. Click here for more information about how the Juvenile system works in Hillsborough and Sarasota counties. If you’d like a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call us now at 813-800-1111.  

Juvenile Criminal Law 101