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Detention Hearings in Juvenile Court

The criteria used by the courts to detemine whether a child may be placed into pre-commitment detention is explained in Section 985.255. These pre-commitment detention criteria apply before the case is resolved. The juvenile court cannot detain a child if the criteria listed below are not met.

If a child has been taken into custody and placed into detention care prior to a detention hearing, the court may continue to detain the child if the child meets any of the following criteria listed in §985.255(1)(a)-(j). An attorney can argue all of the reasons that the child should be released to the parents while the case is pending.

Attorney for Juvenile Court Detention Hearings in Tampa, FL

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL, represent children detained in the juvenile justice system. If the child is not immediately released from the Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC), then the child might be detained at the Juvenile Detention Center for 21 days.

Before the child can be detained for that 21 day period, the child will appear in court for first appearance. Our juvenile defense attorneys represent children at these hearings at the courthouse in Tampa, FL. We can also visit your child at the juvenile assessment center to talk with them about the case.

Call 813-250-0500.


Criteria for Juvenile Detention Listed in Section 985.255

If a child has been taken into custody and placed into detention care prior to a detention hearing, the court may continue to detain the child if the child meets any of the following criteria listed in §985.255(1)(a)-(j) including a showing that the child is:

1. an escapee from a residential commitment program; 

2. an absconder from:

a. a nonresidential commitment program;

b. probation program; or conditional release supervision; or

c. is alleged to have escaped while being lawfully transported to or from a residential commitment program.

3. The child is wanted in another jurisdiction for an offense which, if committed by an adult, would be a felony.

4. The child is charged with a delinquent act or violation of law and requests in writing through legal counsel to be detained for protection from an imminent physical threat to his or her personal safety.

5. The child is charged with committing an offense of domestic violence and is detained as provided below.

6. The child is charged with possession or discharging a firearm on school property in violation of §790.115.

7. The child is charged with:

a. a capital felony;

b. a life felony;

c. a felony of the first degree;a felony of the second degree that does not involve a violation of chapter 893or a felony of the third degree that is also a crime of violence, including any such offense involving the use or possession of a firearm.

d. a felony of the second degree that does not involve a violation of chapter 893; or

e. a felony of the third degree that is also a crime of violence, including any such offense involving the use or possession of a firearm.

8. The child is charged with any second degree or third degree felony involving a violation of chapter 893 or any third degree felony that is not also a crime of violence, and the child:

a. Has a record of failure to appear at court hearings after being properly notified in accordance with the Rules of Juvenile Procedure;

b. Has a record of law violations prior to court hearings;

c. Has already been detained or has been released and is awaiting final disposition of the case;

d. Has a record of violent conduct resulting in physical injury to others; or o Is found to have been in possession of a firearm.

9. The child is alleged to have violated the conditions of the child's probation or conditional release supervision, but the child may be held only in a consequence unit as provided in §985.439 or placed in nonsecure detention with electronic monitoring.

10. The child is detained on a judicial order for failure to appear and has previously willfully failed to appear, after proper notice, for an adjudicatory hearing on the same case regardless of the results of the risk assessment instrument.

a. A child may be held in secure detention for up to 72 hours in advance of the next scheduled court hearing pursuant to this paragraph.

b. The child's failure to keep the clerk of court and defense counsel informed of a current and valid mailing address where the child will receive notice to appear at court proceedings does not provide an adequate ground for excusal of the child's nonappearance at the hearings.

11. If the child has been charged with committing a domestic violence offense, and the child does not meet any of the other detention criteria above, the court may order the child to be held in secure detention if the court makes specific written findings that respite care is not available for the child, and/or that it is necessary to securely detain the child to protect the victim from injury. §985.255(2). If the child is detained by such written findings, the court must hold a hearing 48 hours later to determine whether the child should continue to be detained. §985.255(2). The child may continue to be detained only if the court makes specific written findings that continued detention is necessary to protect the victim from injury. §985.255(2). Any child held thusly may not be detained for longer than the time limits set forth in §985.26.

a. If the child is detained by such written findings, the court must hold a hearing 48 hours later to determine whether the child should continue to be detained. §985.255(2). The child may continue to be detained only if the court makes specific written findings that continued detention is necessary to protect the victim from injury. §985.255(2). Any child held thusly may not be detained for longer than the time limits set forth in §985.26.

b. The child may continue to be detained only if the court makes specific written findings that continued detention is necessary to protect the victim from injury. §985.255(2). Any child held thusly may not be detained for longer than the time limits set forth in §985.26.

c. Any child held thusly may not be detained for longer than the time limits set forth in §985.26.

12. Any child who is detained under §985.255 must be given a detention hearing within 24 hours after being taken into custody, to determine the existence of probable cause that the child committed a delinquent act or violation of the law that he or she is charged with and the need for continued detention. §985.255(3)(a).

13. If the court orders a placement more restrictive than indicated by the results of the RAI, the court must state, in writing, clear and convincing reasons for such placement. §985.255(3)(b).

14. If the court orders detention but does not include a release date in the order, DJJ must request the court set one on the same date the child is placed into detention care. If subsequent hearings are needed for safety planning, the initial order shall reflect that the next review hearing shall be held within three days after the initial detention placement. §985.255(3)(c).


Can a Child Be Held in Detention for More than 21 Days?

A child may not remain in detention under a special detention order for more than 21 days, unless an adjudicatory hearing for the case has commenced in good faith. §985.26(2).

But if the offense would be, if committed by an adult, a capital felony, a life felony, a felony of the first degree, or a felony of the second degree involving violence against an individual, the court may, upon a good cause showing that the prosecution or defense needs more time to prepare due to the nature of the charge, extend the length of detention for an additional 9 days. §985.26(2).

The time limits above do not include time extensions due to court-granted continuances. §985.26(4).

Should a time limit be tolled due to a continuance, the court must review the continuance with a hearing every 72 hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, to determine the need for continued detention and further continuance of the proceedings. §985.26(4).


Holding the Child for 15 Days Following the Order of Adjudication

Except as provided above, a child may not be held in secure or nonsecure detention care for more than 15 days following the entry of an order of adjudication. §985.26(3).

The time limit above does not include time extensions due to court- granted continuances. §985.26(4).

Should the time limit be tolled due to a continuance, the court must review the continuance with a hearing every 72 hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, to determine the need for continued detention and further continuance of the proceedings. §985.26(4).


This article was last updated on Tuesday, August 22, 2018.