The Juvenile Division is responsible for prosecuting all criminal cases involving defendants under the age of 18. In Alachua County, the juvenile division houses 3 attorneys dedicated to prosecuting juveniles. There is also a juvenile attorney in each of the 5 outlying counties in this Circuit charged with prosecuting juveniles, as well as their other prosecutorial responsibilities.
While the main concern for the attorneys in Juvenile Division is the safety of our community and our victims, we make every effort to treat each juvenile individually to ensure proper treatment and rehabilitation. For first time offenders that may mean being referred to a diversion program such as Teen Court rather than proceeding through the court system. In other cases, that may require the decision to prosecute the juvenile as an adult.
Restitution in the Juvenile Division is monitored by Project Payback and participation with this program is a condition of probation. Project Payback helps the defendant devise a plan to pay back the money he or she owes to the victim. Another condition of probation for some juveniles is Juvenile Drug Court. This program, created in a partnership with the Office of the State Attorney, the Family Court for the Eighth Judicial Circuit, the Public Defender's Office, the Department of Juvenile Justice and Meridien Behavioral Services, offers intensive group therapy for juveniles with drug problems. This program provides needed treatment to drug dependant teens and will hopefully reduce recidivism.