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What is a status offense in the juvenile justice system?

Having a child who is involved in the juvenile justice system is rather challenging. You have to think about what's best for your child, and sometimes that won't align with what the court system thinks is best. During this time, you must ensure that you know what options you have and what possibilities exist so that you can make informed decisions.

The type of case your child is facing in the juvenile justice system can have an impact on what options are available. One type of case is a status offense. This isn't as serious as a delinquency matter, but it is still important that the issues at the center of the case are addressed.

What is a status offense?

A status offense is something that is illegal for juveniles to do that isn't illegal for an adult. This includes things like possessing alcohol or tobacco, skipping school, staying out after curfew or running away from home. In Florida, people who are 17 years old or younger can face cases for these offenses, but they aren't possible for a person who is 18 years or older.

How are status offenses handled?

Typically, the family of the juvenile will be provided services to help address the issue. The goal is to provide the child with stability and to find ways to help them learn how to live a productive life. There are also services that can address only the child's needs. The two designations in Florida are Family in Need of Services and Child in Need of Services. The court and related systems will determine which option or combination is most appropriate for the situation.

Your child could be removed from your home if the court determines that it is in the child's best interest and that it is the only way to rectify the issues. This is usually a measure of last resort that is reserved for situations in which other options don't work or when the child is considered to be in danger at home. Working with the court might be beneficial if you are trying to avoid having your child being removed from the home, so you should consult with an attorney about how to proceed.

One thing to remember during these times is that the attorney you hire is there to represent your child. As hard as it might be to accept, they must work with your child to make decisions. You are free to advise your child, but the final decision rests with your juvenile.

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