a juvenile in handcuffs being charged with criminal charges in Bradenton & sarasota florida
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By Brice Van Elswyk
Founding Attorney

Discovering that your child is facing juvenile criminal charges can be an overwhelming and stressful experience. In Florida, the juvenile justice system operates differently from the adult criminal system, with a focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment. This system is designed to provide young offenders with the opportunity for correction and growth. However, understanding how this process works and ensuring your child’s rights are protected remains crucial for a fair and just resolution.

Understanding Juvenile Criminal Charges

The juvenile justice system differs significantly from the adult criminal system, focusing more on rehabilitation and less on punishment. This approach recognizes that young people have the potential for change and growth. Juvenile charges can range from minor offenses to more serious crimes, but regardless of the severity, the system aims to support rather than penalize young offenders. Understanding this can provide some reassurance, as the primary goal is to help minors learn from their mistakes and reintegrate positively into society, preserving their future opportunities.

Immediate Steps to Take

  • Stay Calm and Collect Information: Begin by remaining calm and composed. Gather all the relevant details about the incident, including where and when it occurred, and any witnesses that might be involved.
  • Avoid Social Media Discussions: Refrain from discussing the situation on social media platforms. Public comments can inadvertently affect the case and should be avoided to protect your child’s legal position.
  • Do Not Interfere with the Investigation: It’s crucial to let the legal process unfold without interference. Attempting to contact victims or witnesses can be misconstrued and potentially harm your child’s case.

Seeking Legal Assistance

When facing juvenile criminal charges, securing a defense attorney with experience in juvenile law is key. An attorney skilled in this area understands the juvenile justice system and can effectively navigate its complexities. They serve as both a shield and a guide, protecting your child’s legal rights while offering informed advice on the best course of action. The right legal counsel can make a significant difference in the outcome of the case, aiming to minimize the impact on your child’s future. Their involvement ensures that every decision made is in the best interest of your child.

Understanding Your Child’s Rights

Every child facing juvenile criminal charges is entitled to legal representation and the right to a fair hearing. They have the right to remain silent, avoiding self-incrimination, and the right to be notified of the charges against them. Additionally, confidentiality is a cornerstone of juvenile proceedings, protecting your child’s privacy. These rights are designed to ensure a fair and just process, respecting the unique circumstances and vulnerabilities of young individuals. As a parent, being aware of these rights is crucial in safeguarding your child’s welfare throughout the legal proceedings.

Preparing for the Legal Process

Preparing for the legal process in juvenile cases involves several key steps. First, familiarize yourself with the typical juvenile court proceedings in Florida, understanding the stages from arraignment to disposition. It’s helpful to gather pertinent documents, such as school records or character references, which might support your child’s case. Encouraging your child to participate in counseling or community service can also be beneficial, demonstrating proactive responsibility. Regular communication with your legal counsel is essential. This preparation not only aids in the legal process but also supports your child’s emotional well-being.

Dealing with Juvenile Criminal Charges

Van Elswyk Law can help you navigate the complexities of juvenile criminal cases. We provide legal guidance and support, tailored to protect your child’s rights and secure the best possible outcome. Reach out to us today for the assistance your family needs during this challenging time.

About the Author
Brice Van Elswyk started his professional career as an investment banker in 1998. Over the next 14 years, Brice worked for several international investment banks, eventually specializing in structured products with complex tax, accounting, and regulatory capital constraints.While at the State Attorney’s Office, Brice prosecuted crimes ranging from misdemeanors such as DUI’s and domestic batteries, all the way to homicide, drug trafficking and sex crimes. Most recently, Brice was a specialty prosecutor focusing on capital sex crimes and crimes against children. Now, Brice combines his vast knowledge of finance, and his extensive experience as a trial attorney to serve clients in both criminal defense and civil matters.