Florida Court Upholds a Juvenile’s Sentence of 100 Days of Detainment Following Probation Violations

Under Florida law, juvenile defendants are subject to a different set of rules and standards than adult defendants in the criminal court system. For example, if a juvenile defendant is found to be in violation of a court order, the law allows the defendant to be sentenced to detainment in a secure facility.

A Florida appellate court recently analyzed whether a juvenile’s sentence of 100 days of detainment following violations of a probation order was unlawful. If you are a juvenile resident of Clearwater and are charged with a criminal offense or probation violation, it is in your best interest to meet with a skilled Clearwater criminal defense attorney to discuss your rights under the law.

Terms of the Defendant’s Probation

Reportedly, the defendant was placed on probation for petit theft and possession of cannabis. The terms of the defendant’s probation required her to live at her mother’s home. While she was on probation, the defendant was charged with possession of a controlled substance. During a conference regarding her probation violation, the court issued a “Do Not Run Order.” The order required the defendant to live at her mother’s home and put the defendant on notice that if a rule to show cause was issued a hearing could be held on whether she was guilty of contempt. Further, the order stated that the defendant was on notice that she faced five days for the first day she was on the run, but no more than fifteen days for each subsequent day. Each day on the run was considered a separate contempt offense.

It is alleged that the defendant left her mother’s home on December 26, 2018, and was not located until January 4, 2019, when she was picked up by the police. The State filed a Rule to Show Cause to commence contempt proceedings against the defendant, after which the court issued an order to show cause as to why the defendant should not be held in contempt.  The trial court held an evidentiary hearing, after which the defendant was found guilty of contempt due to ten separate violations of the Do Not Run order. She was sentenced to ten days for each violation to run consecutively, for a total of 100 days. The defendant filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus arguing that she was unlawfully detained and that her sentence was improper. The court denied her petition.

Statute Pertaining to Juvenile Contempt Proceedings

The defendant argued that her alleged violation of the Do Not Run order constituted a single act of contempt, and therefore, her sentence was illegal. The court noted that the statute pertaining to juvenile contempt proceedings allows for a juvenile who has been held in contempt to be placed in a detention facility for up to five days for a first offense and up to fifteen days for a subsequent offense. The court stated in interpreting the statute regarding contempt proceedings in a similar case, the Florida Supreme Court held that a juvenile who violates an order on multiple occasions commits several acts of contempt and can be sentenced for each act.

Here, the court noted that the defendant had previously violated the order to remain in her home. Subsequently, the trial court issued an order stating the defendant would face a separate contempt charge for each day she remained on the run. Thus, the court held that each day the defendant refused to comply with the trial court’s order constituted a separate violation. Moreover, the court stated that to find otherwise would undermine the court’s order and vitiate the language of the statute. As such, the court denied the defendant’s petition.

Confer with a Skilled Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney

Under Florida law, juvenile defendants are afforded certain rights and protections. If you are a juvenile who lives in Clearwater and are currently facing criminal charges, you should confer with a skilled  Clearwater criminal defense attorney to discuss potential defenses.  Attorney William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a proficient Clearwater criminal defense attorney who will work diligently to help you retain your liberties. Mr. Hanlon can be reached at 727-897-5413 or through the online form to schedule a meeting.

More Blog Posts:

Florida Appellate Court Overrules Conviction Due to Improper Waiver of a Juvenile’s Right to Counsel, December 10, 2018, Clearwater and St. Petersburg Criminal Lawyer Blog

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