Can Teens Be Arrested for Domestic Violence in Florida?

Much of the focus on Florida domestic violence prosecution centers around cases involving adults – co-parents, estranged spouses, dating partners, etc. But as our Broward domestic violence defense lawyers can explain, teens can be involved too.Broward domestic violence lawyer

The U.S. Department of Justice reports 1 in 11 teen girls and 1 in 14 teen boys are victims of physical dating violence every year. This includes both physical dating violence and sexual dating violence. According to the U.S. Office of Justice Programs, targets of domestic violence committed by juveniles were mostly parents (51 percent). About a quarter of cases involved siblings, another 13 percent other family members.

Only about 10 percent of cases involved a boyfriend/girlfriend. But these statistics are likely skewed a bit by semantics. That’s because “domestic violence” as it’s defined in F.S. 741.28 is strictly limited to “family or household members.” So unless the teens are married, divorced, co-parents, currently living together as a family or had previously lived together, acts of violence in that relationship aren’t technically counted as “domestic violence.”

That doesn’t mean juveniles can’t face consequences for dating violence. Among the possible consequences:

  • A criminal charge of assault and battery or aggravated assault and battery.
  • Subject to a civil protection order, which is public record.
  • School expulsion, in accordance with F.S. 10006.148.
  • Removal from home and placement in foster care and/or youth group home.
  • Delinquency proceedings through the Juvenile Delinquency Division of the 17th Judicial Circuit (in Broward County).
  • Required counseling and/or anger management courses.

Although the penalties for Florida juvenile crimes of violence can be quite serious (particularly if the defendant is charged as an adult), the process will probably look a little different than a typical criminal case.

The circuit court in Broward has (as of this writing) four judges assigned to handle juvenile delinquency cases for kids under 18 accused of committing a crime. When a juvenile is taken into custody, they aren’t taken to “jail.” Instead, they’re transported to the Juvenile Assessment Center. Staffers conduct a risk assessment to see if the youth should be detained longer or if they need to be released before their first hearing. If the alleged crime was violent, it’s entirely possible they won’t get out before that first hearing – but that takes place within 24 hours. It’s best to hire a juvenile defense lawyer right away, as the teen is entitled to have one at that first hearing. One will be appointed if you can’t afford it. The judge will decide at that point whether the teen should be kept in a secure facility, a non-secure facility, or sent back home.

Likely within a few days, the state attorney’s office will decide whether to file charges. Another reason it’s great to have a defense lawyer advocating for you in these very early stages is because we can often approach the prosecutor before charges are ever filed. We’ll outlined potential weaknesses in their case, underscore the teen’s youth, lack of prior record, or any other mitigating factors that might compel the prosecutor not to file charges, or to file lesser charges than what they were initially considering.

Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Additional Resources:

Teen Dating Violence, OJP

More Blog Entries:

Can I Claim Self Defense in a Florida Domestic Violence Case? April 23, 2023, Broward Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog

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