The juvenile arrest avoidance program or JAAP, is an alternative to arrest for youth 8-17 years of age who commit certain first-time misdemeanor offenses. Section 985.12, Florida Statutes, gives law enforcement the ability to issue the juvenile a civil citation in lieu of arrest. Juveniles will receive a risk assessment and may be referred to services such as counseling, treatment, and other appropriate community resources.
A civil citation or similar prearrest diversion program for misdemeanor offenses shall be established in each judicial circuit in the state. The state attorney and public defender of each circuit, the clerk of the court for each county in the circuit, and representatives of participating law enforcement agencies in the circuit shall create a civil citation or prearrest diversion program. The state attorney of each circuit shall operate the civil citation or prearrest diversion program in each circuit.
If a juvenile does not successfully complete the civil citation or prearrest diversion program, the arresting law enforcement officer shall determine if there is good cause to arrest the juvenile for the original misdemeanor offense and refer the case to the state attorney to determine if the prosecution is appropriate or allow the juvenile to continue in the program.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office announced how it will work with teens who get in trouble with the law. Through the Juvenile Arrest Avoidance Program, juvenile first-time offenders who commit qualifying misdemeanors can be issued a civil citation instead of being criminally charged. The sheriff’s office said those offenders can receive counseling, treatment services, or other appropriate community resources. The program will place emphasis on rehabilitation, helping young people learn from their mistakes, and divert them from entering the criminal justice system.
What Offenses Are Eligible for JAAP?
All misdemeanors offenses are eligible for JAAP, with the exception of five. The five exceptions are: assault on a specified official (school employee, detention officer, law enforcement officer), battery (domestic violence, except incidents involving family violence), driving under the influence, racing, and violation of injunction. Deputies and police officers considering the arrest of a child younger than 12 are required to discuss other options with a supervisor and preference must be given to the citation program.
Do Parents Need to Consent?
Children who receive the citations must agree to accept responsibility for the crime and enter a diversion program, which can include community service or restitution. They undergo assessments to allow authorities to create a program with services tailored to their risks and needs. Parents do not need to consent or agree before a child receives a citation and enters a diversion program.
Deputies and police officers who believe there are immediate community safety concerns based on the nature and circumstances of an offense can still make an arrest in lieu of a civil citation.
‘Due to the efforts and ongoing collaboration of our criminal justice partners, more juveniles in Hillsborough County will have the opportunity to avoid the stigma of an arrest,’ said the Honorable Ron Ficarrotta of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit. ‘In the long run, this works to benefit all of the citizens of Hillsborough County.’
Should You Contact an Attorney?
If you or a loved one would like to learn more about the Juvenile Arrest Avoidance Program it is important that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The Juvenile Arrest Avoidance Program may be the difference between avoiding an arrest and becoming involved in the criminal justice system.