Juvenile Defense Attorney

After a child is accused of a crime, the parent will ask: “Should I hire a lawyer to represent my child?” The United States Constitution gives each of us the right to remain silent under the 5th Amendment and the right to be represented by an attorney under the 6th Amendment. Children should exercise those rights during a criminal investigation.

The parent can say, “My child is not talking to anyone until the attorney is present.” The child can also say, “I want to remain silent until an attorney is present.”

If requested, the parents and child can still provide the child’s biographical information such as name, date of birth, and address without waiving these important rights, but the child should not provide any other information until after speaking with a criminal defense attorney.

An attorney can help you decide what you need to do right now to protect your child against a criminal accusation. Even for minor offenses, it is important to understand the impact of a criminal record.

An attorney can explain the consequences of waiving the child’s right to a speedy trial or signing documents presented before the first court date. Additionally, if a petition is filed in juvenile court, it might trigger a suspension, change of placement, or expulsion by the school.

Having an attorney early in the case can help you determine the best course of action. We work hard to increase the chances that the State Attorney’s Office in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit will drop the charges completely, allow the child to enter the best diversion program available, or file only reduced charges.

The consequences of entering a diversion program for juveniles and the conditions to complete the programs vary widely. Those programs in Hillsborough County might include the Juvenile Arbitration Program, Juvenile Diversion Alternative Program (JDAP), the Walker Plan, or drug court diversion programs. Entering a diversion program might not be in the child’s best interest depending on the facts of the case.

Diversion Programs

Even when offered a diversion program, many parents would prefer to see their child enter private counseling or private substance abuse treatment rather than a state-run or state-funded program such as ACTS (Agency for Community Treatment Services) or Phoenix House or DACCO (Drug Abuse and Comprehensive Coordinating Office) which often groups troubled children together.

Hiring a criminal defense attorney might increase the odds that the best disposition of the case can be negotiated. An attorney can also make sure the child understands all of the pros and cons of each way of resolving the case.

McLean & Mitchell have worked in the juvenile courts throughout the State of Florida and have continued to represent young people in juvenile courts throughout Hillsborough County, Hernando County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Manatee County, and Polk County.

McLean & Mitchell are also very experienced in fighting cases and going to trial in juvenile court. It is important to remember that criminal defense in juvenile court is very different from the adult juvenile justice system. Talk with an attorney that has experience in juvenile court for the particular jurisdiction in which your adolescent son or daughter is facing charges.