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There are few things worse than receiving a call that your child or grandchild has been charged with a crime. The initial emotions typically begin with disbelief, anger, and disappointment. Then reality sets in and you realize that your child’s future may be severely impacted by poor decision making, or by a wrongful arrest. If your child has been charged with a crime anywhere in Florida do not gamble by assuming that he or she will simply be given a slap on the wrist. Any criminal charge can have lasting or permanent impacts even for juvenile defendants, which makes it extremely important to retain an experienced juvenile criminal defense lawyer. Benjamin Herbst is South Florida criminal lawyer who specializes in juvenile cases, and he has successfully defended hundreds of teenagers and young adults. He understands that nothing is more important than keeping a juvenile defendant out of a detention facility, and preserving his or her future. Benjamin knows that juvenile criminal cases present their own challenges, and he has a unique ability to be able to form and maintain a trusting relationship with his younger clients. He also values keeping the juvenile’s family up to date and informed throughout the entire process, and is always available to speak on nights and weekends. If your juvenile is facing charges in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach County contact Benjamin at (954) 543-0305 for a free consultation. Benjamin is also an experienced Treasure Coast lawyer for juveniles facing charges in Martin and St. Lucie County.
Any child who is arrested in Florida will either be released to a parent, responsible adult relative or legal guardian or be held in custody pending a juvenile detention hearing. Juveniles who are released will be issued a notice to appear in court at a later date. Failure to show up as directed will result in the issuance of an arrest warrant or order to detain. Any juvenile who is held in custody must be taken before a judicial officer for a detention hearing within 24 hours. The detention hearing is similar to an adult bond review hearing where the juvenile is first advised of the right to counsel and then advised of the charges. A detained juvenile is entitled to representation by a lawyer, and the Court must also make a diligent effort to notify the parents or legal guardians of hearing. If the parents do not show up or are not reachable the hearing can still be conducted under Florida law. After the advisements, the Court must make a finding of probable cause. If the Court does not find probable cause for the arrest it may decide to hold the juvenile for up to 72 hours for the state to produce additional evidence. Upon a showing of good cause an additional 24-hour extension may be granted. If probable cause is found, the Court then decides whether hold or release the juvenile to the parents, guardians or previous commitment program. Benjamin has successfully argued for the release of numerous juvenile clients at detention hearings, and is standing by to appear on short notice anywhere in South Florida.
After the initial arrest and detention hearing (if applicable) the state must decide whether to file formal charges. A charging document in juvenile court is called a petition for delinquency, which is similar to a criminal information in adult court. It must state the specific offense(s), location, time and may include co-defendants. The case will then be set for arraignment where the juvenile can enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest just like in adult court. There are also various pretrial diversion options available that could result in the charge being dismissed down the road. In more serious cases a child who pleads guilty may be found delinquent and sentenced to probation until age 19, or placed in a secure facility until age 21. A child who pleads not guilty can elect to have an evidentiary hearing, which is similar to a trial though without a jury. There is no right to a jury trial in juvenile court, but the defendant can subpoena witnesses and argue motions just like in adult court. Benjamin will examine your child’s case thoroughly to determine the best course of action, and never backs down from trial if that is the best option. He is skilled at cross examining state’s witnesses and arguing motions to suppress illegal evidence in Florida juvenile courts.
If the juvenile is over the age of 14, the state can also attempt to file adult charges against a juvenile through by direct filing charges into adult court or by requesting an involuntary discretionary waiver. The juvenile can also request to be tried as an adult via the filing of a voluntary waiver, but this is rare and usually not advisable. An involuntary mandatory waiver to adult court must be filed by law if the juvenile has previously been adjudicated delinquent of a felony and is charged with a variety of serious offenses including sexual battery, armed robbery, aggravated battery, strong armed robbery and burglary with battery. In these scenarios a waiver hearing will be set where the judge looks at a variety of factors including the facts of the case, the child’s background and the likelihood of the child’s rehabilitation. Benjamin fights for all juveniles who are facing involuntary waivers, and will do whatever it takes to keep your child’s case in juvenile court. He is available 7 days a week to offer a free consultation at (954) 543-0305, and has flexible meeting hours at his Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach offices. Benjamin is also willing to travel anywhere from Miami to Port St. Lucie to discuss the case in person.