Juvenile Criminal Defense

Juvenile Criminal Defense

Defense of juveniles in criminal cases is very different than the defense of adults. Although the crime may be the same, the outcome can be very different. A good juvenile criminal defense attorney knows the differences in the law, and our experience with juvenile cases can make a huge difference in the way they are handled.

Additionally, juvenile crimes DO NOT go away when the child turns 18. In fact they will show up on any military, federal, or other extensive background check.

It’s very important that you talk to an experienced juvenile criminal defense attorney before you make any decisions that could potentially affect the rest of your child’s life. Pasco County defense attorney Stephanie Pawuk is committed to protecting your child or teenager's rights in this specialized area of law. Please contact Stephanie now for a free, no-obligation consultation if your child or teen is facing legal charges.

"I have been practicing juvenile criminal law for 20 years. I began my career as a juvenile prosecutor in Clearwater, Florida – by choice. I asked to be put into the juvenile division right out of law school. Although I was later moved into the adult division, I still continued to work on cases where juveniles had been direct filed into adult court."

What happens when your child is arrested?

When a juvenile is arrested there are several possible things that can happen:

  • The police may call the parents to pick up their child from wherever they have been arrested. This usually happens in first time possession of marijuana cases or other petty crimes.
  • The police may call the parents but tell them they are taking their child to a juvenile assessment center. In that case, it is up to the Juvenile Probation Officer whether or not to release your child. (Call Stephanie ASAP if this happens)
  • The police may or may not call the parents before they interview your child. They are supposed to, but often do not.
  • The police may just arrest your child — you may not even know about it — until you get a call from someone in the Department of Juvenile Justice.
  • For certain felony crimes, particularly those involving any type of firearm, your child may be arrested and held in a Juvenile Detention Center for 21 days — and that’s before they are ever found Guilty. Juveniles are not entitled to bond in Florida.

The cops are at my house and want to talk to my child – what should I do?

DO NOT talk to them or allow your child to talk to them. Many parents teach their children to “just tell the truth” and it will make everything better. IT WILL NOT. We are not advising you to lie to the police. We are advising you not to allow your child to talk to them.

If the police are at your house trying to get consent to talk to your child — or search his or her room — it means they do not have enough evidence to arrest him or her. By “telling the truth” all you are doing is giving the police more evidence against your child. Even if the police say they won’t arrest your child, or they’ll talk to the State Attorney and tell them to go easy on your child — THEY WILL NOT. Police are allowed to lie during an investigation. It does absolutely no good to allow your child to talk to them or to give them consent to search your house. (This same advice goes for adults — but they rarely listen to us!)

Additionally, even if your child tells you they didn’t do it (whatever they are being accused of) — or that there’s nothing in their room — it’s still a good idea to refuse to allow them to talk or search. The police may say — "we’ll just get a warrant and come back" — fine. But when you give consent to talk to your child or search your home YOU HAVE GIVEN UP YOUR CHILD’S RIGHTS AND MANY OF THE DEFENSES THEY MAY POSSIBLY HAVE.

If the police are at your house to talk to your child CALL STEPHANIE. She always gives free advice on juvenile cases.

How can they hold my child if he or she hasn’t been found Guilty?

Florida Law gives wide power to the agents of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). After arrest, a DJJ worker will interview the child asking questions about drug and alcohol use, school grades and attendance, run away behavior, and prior criminal charges. If that DJJ worker decides that the child is a “risk,” the child can be held for up to 21 days in the Juvenile Detention Center. The child can also be held — even if this is the first offense — if the crime is serious. Grand Theft Auto is one of the crimes where a child would be held for 21 days on the first offense.

How do I get my child out of the Juvenile Detention Center?

It’s not easy. A good juvenile criminal attorney may be able to make a persuasive argument to the first appearance judge to get your child out. It all depends on the facts of your child’s case. We offer free phone consultations on all juvenile charges.

What about future background checks — will the arrest stay on my child's record?

If your child is charged with a crime, even if he or she never goes to court, you should have the charges sealed or expunged. With modern technology juvenile criminal records will still show up in a background check, depending upon who does the background check.

If Your Child Has Been Arrested — Contact Pasco County Juvenile Defense Attorney Stephanie Pawuk

If your child has been arrested, please don't wait to contact Stephanie for a free phone consultation. Pawuk & Pawuk serves Pasco County, Florida and most of the surrounding area, including Pinellas County and Hernando County.