Juvenile Criminal Law
Warning to all parents and children and accused of a crime in Florida, your juvenile record will be used against you. Gone are the days when police pick us a child for engaging in delinquent behavior and drop them at home to be dealt with by parents. Today even a light contact with law enforcement at school can result in a juvenile criminal record.
Technically speaking, the juvenile court process is very different from that of the adult system. Under Chapter 985 of the Florida Statutes, children are not “convicted” but are “adjudicated delinquent.” Similarly, children are not “arrested” but are “taken into custody” or “detained” pursuant to Section 985.101(4). However prospective employers may not understand the difference and assume that the child has lied on an application asking if there has been an arrest or conviction.
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If the child was fingerprinted, then Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has a record of the child and because FDLE criminal history records are public, they may be released to requesting individuals including prospective employer under certain circumstances.
Also, Section 943.053(3) “(a) Criminal history information, including information relating to minors, … shall be available on a priority basis to criminal justice agencies for criminal justice purpose free of charge. After proving the [CJIP] with all known information, persons in the private sector and noncriminal justice agencies may be provided criminal history information upon tender of fess…” Also, a law enforcement officer is permitted to release a copy of the juvenile offense report to the alleged victim of the offense. §985.04(3), Fla. Stat. More crucially, if a child is taken into custody for any felony offense or a crime identified as a crime of violence (DV battery), the arresting law enforcement agency must notify the superintendent of the child’s school. §985.04(4), Fla. Stat. Once the arrest is reported to the school, it is likely part of the child’s permanent academic record. The arrest for the offense, even off school property and unrelated to academics, could result in a change of placement for the child into an alternative school.