As a parent or guardian, it can be stressful to see your child in handcuffs or get a phone call that your child is at the police station for allegedly breaking the law. Minors do have specific rights in the juvenile justice system that are important to know if the situation ever arises. A person is considered a minor in Florida if they are under 18 years of age.
If a minor is arrested, the police must read the minor their Miranda Rights, which means they have the right to an attorney and anything they tell the police can be used against them in court. If the minor is not read their Miranda Rights, any conversation between the minor and law enforcement will not be admissible in court as evidence. The minor may also have a parent present. If a minor requests their parents, the police must make a reasonable attempt to contact the parents and share the minor’s location, but police may still question the minor without a parent present. The minor has a right to an attorney, and either the parent may retain one or the minor will be assigned a court-appointed public defender. One exception to police questioning without an attorney is if the child is under 13 years of age and has been arrested for sexual assault or homicide, in which case the child may not be questioned at all without an attorney present.
After the minor is arrested and processed, a Juvenile Probation Officer will perform a risk assessment to determine if the minor is a flight risk. With that assessment, a Department of Juvenile Justice Officer will decide if the child may return home or should be held in a juvenile center before their detention hearing. If the minor’s risk level requires a juvenile center placement, they will be taken to either a Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Center or a Juvenile Assessment Center.