The juvenile court division includes the following cases:
- Delinquency - misdemeanor and felony crimes committed by juveniles
- Dependency - allegations/charges of abuse, neglect and/or abandonment of children
- Children in Need of Services/Families in Need of Services (CINS/FINS) - ungovernable, truant and runaway children
The juvenile courts rely on investigations and information from law enforcement, schools, the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), Department of Children and Families (DCF), Guardian Ad Litem (GAL), and many other service and provider agencies to resolve juvenile cases in the juvenile court system. Each child has an assigned case worker or probation officer from one of these agencies, who is responsible for assisting them with court procedures and other non-judicial aspects of the system.
The Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) is the state agency responsible for the intake, assessment, court recommendation, and supervision of juveniles charged with crimes in the juvenile justice system. The website for the Department of Juvenile Justice and link to a Guide to the Delinquency System at the bottom of this page may be helpful in understanding the process and the people involved in a juvenile delinquency case.
Escambia County Juvenile Teen Court: Teen Court is a juvenile delinquency diversion program that allows first time juvenile offenders with misdemeanor offenses and certain traffic violations to avoid court prosecution or points on their driving record, if they complete the program successfully. Participants in Teen Court must be referred by the Juvenile State Attorney’s Office, or the Civil Traffic Division. Teen Court is a “peer court” program in which trained volunteer students conduct actual court hearings for the juvenile offenders. Defendants are sentenced by a jury of teens based upon minimum and maximum sentencing guidelines. The teens are supervised by the Teen Court Coordinator and Student Assistant(s) who monitor sanctions and deadlines; arrange community service work and special projects; schedule and conduct jail tours; document and report progress, etc. When necessary, juveniles and their families are referred for counseling services.
The Teen Court Program is always looking for teens who are interested in volunteering as attorneys, clerks, jurors, and bailiffs, and/or helping with Teen Court hearings. Adult volunteers are also valuable in working with this valuable program for teens, by teens. Please see our brochure below for more information and a number to contact if you are interested in volunteering with the program.
For other Teen Court Programs that may be available in your community in the First Circuit please see www.flteencourt.net.
The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is the state agency responsible for children alleged or found to be abused, neglected and/or abandoned by their parent(s) or caregiver(s). The website for the Department of Children and Families and separate guides to dependency court for younger children, youth, and parents are located below. These resources will provide helpful information about both the agency and court processes of the dependency system.
Children in Need of Services/Families in Need of Services (CINS/FINS)
When parents have concerns with a child being truant (having unexcused absences from school), ungovernable, and/or run away behaviors, they may need to inquire about counseling, other social services, or possible court intervention to address the problematic behaviors. Parents should contact their county school system, a local community counseling agency, or the Department of Children and Families to inquire about services.
Other Juvenile Court Programs
Juvenile Electronic Monitoring, Arbitration, Truancy Court and the Restitution Pay or Appear programs are some of the programs presently serving youth through the courts in the First Circuit. These programs require referral by the State Attorney or by a court order. More information regarding programs for juveniles in the juvenile delinquency and juvenile dependency systems is also available through the Department of Juvenile Justice or Department of Children and Families located in your county.
National Youth Courts: www.youthcourt.net
Florida Teen Courts: www.flteencourt.net
Family Guide to Delinquency Court: www.flcourts.org/gen_public/family/bin/juv_brochure.pdf
What’s Happening in Dependency Court - A Guide for Young Children
Hearing your Voice - A Dependency Guide for Youth
A Parent’s Guide to Juvenile Dependency Court