Filing of Formal Charges

The prosecutor has the discretion to file formal charges. The charging document which formally accuses the child of a criminal violation is called a delinquency petition. The prosecutor may file the petition even if witnesses do not want to testify against the child or do not want the case to proceed.

In some cases, the prosecutor can also unilaterally choose to file charges against children as young as 14 years old in the adult court division. If this occurs, the juvenile will be prosecuted in the same way as an adult. That is, the child may be transferred to adult jail and face adult court sanctions. In Miami-Dade alone, more than 1000 juveniles were transferred to adult court in 1998. In response, the Public Defenderís Office established the Juvenile Sentencing Advocacy Project (JSAP), as well as the direct file unit in its juvenile division. For more information about JSAP, click here.



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Law Offices of the Public Defender
Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida


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