Delinquency Spotlight

February 2019: Proposed 2019 Legislation

This year’s legislative session is March 5, 2019 - May 3, 2019. Several pertinent bills have been filed related to juvenile justice, dependency and domestic violence. The primary bills are:

1) SB 850 (Similar to HB 339): Juvenile Justice

  • Strikes existing provisions on involuntary mandatory waiver and changes discretionary direct file to discretionary prosecution of children as adults;
  • Changes indictment to apply to children 14 years of age or older rather than children of any age;
  • Amends existing language to indictable offenses;
  • States that notwithstanding any other law, a child who commits an indictable offense and who has a pending competency hearing in juvenile court or has been previously found to be incompetent and has not been restored to competency by a court may not be transferred to adult court for criminal prosecution until competency is restored;
  • Provides that a pending competency hearing or finding of incompetency tolls certain time limits.

STATUS: As of 2/19/2019, referred to Criminal Justice, Judiciary, and Appropriations Committees.

2) Juvenile Justice - A series of related “direct file bills” have been filed:

  • HB 575:
    • Removes references to state attorney's discretion to direct file juvenile;
    • Revises direct file criteria;
    • Provides for opportunity for hearing to reverse direct file before information is filed in adult court.

          STATUS: As of 2/6/2019, referred to: Criminal Justice, Justice Appropriations, and Judiciary Committees.

  • SB 1260:
    • Repealing provisions requiring the mandatory direct filing of charges in adult court against juveniles in certain circumstances.

        STATUS: A of 2/20/2019 filed in the Senate.

  • HB 6051:
    • Repeals provisions requiring the mandatory direct filing of charges in adult court against juveniles in certain circumstances.

          STATUS: As of 2/20/2019, filed in the Senate.

3) SB 870: Juvenile Justice

  • Prohibits the holding in a jail or other facility intended or used for the detention of adults of a child awaiting trial who is treated as an adult for purposes of criminal prosecution and provides an exception;
  • Provides a requirement and a prohibition if a court determines that it is in the interest of justice to allow a child to be held in a jail or other facility intended or used for the detention of adults.

STATUS: As of 2/19/2019 referred to Criminal Justice, Judiciary, and Appropriations Committees.

4) SB 876: Juvenile Justice

  • Provides that a child who is transferred to adult court under ss. 985.557 or 985.56, or the child’s defense counsel, may request in writing a hearing to determine whether the child must remain in adult court;
  • Requires that the judge conduct the hearing within 30 days unless good cause is shown for a delay. The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether it is necessary for the protection of the community that he child is prosecuted in adult court;
  • Sets forth a list of several factors that the judge is required to consider;
  • Permits the judge to consider any report that may be of assistance including prior PDR, psycho-social assessments, individualized educational programs, developmental assessments, school records, abuse or neglect reports, home studies, protective investigations, or psychological or psychiatric evaluations. The child, parents or legal guardians, defense counsel, and the state attorney have the right to examine the records and to question at the hearing the parties responsible for creating them;
  • Requires that the adult court retain jurisdiction unless the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the factors listed in support returning the child to juvenile court;
  • Requires the adult court render an order including specific findings of fact and the reasons for its decision. The order is reviewable on appeal under s. 985.534 and the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure.

STATUS: As of 2/19/2019, referred to Criminal Justice, Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice, and Appropriations Committees.

5) SB 966: Juvenile Justice

  • Deletes a requirement that limits diversion program expunction to programs for misdemeanor offenses.

STATUS: As of 2/19/2019, referred to Criminal Justice, Judiciary, and Rules Committees.

6) SB 980/HB 845: Interpersonal Violence

  • Provides an exemption from public records requirements for all information contained in a petition for certain protective injunctions, and any related affidavit, notice of hearing, and temporary injunction, until the respondent has been personally served.

STATUS: As of 2/19/2019, referred to the Judiciary; Governmental Oversight and Accountability, and Rules Committees.

7) HB 175: Juvenile Justice and Interpersonal Violence

  • Removes provisions authorizing seizure of firearms from persons in certain circumstances;
  • Removes prohibition on firearms ownership or possession until removal of firearm possession & firearm ownership disability;
  • Removes prohibition on persons younger than 21 years of age purchasing firearms;
  • Eliminates waiting period for purchases of firearms other than handguns;
  • Removes ban on bump-fire stocks;
  • Removes provisions providing for risk protection orders.

STATUS: As of 1/16/2019, referred to the Criminal Justice Subcommittee, Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, and Judiciary Committees.

8) HB 379 (Related to SB 774): Interpersonal Violence

  • Authorizes court to take certain actions regarding care, custody, possession, or control of animal in domestic violence actions.

STATUS: SB 774, as of 2/15/2019, referred to the Innovation, Industry, and Technology, Judiciary, and Rules Committees.

9) HB 583/CS/SB 452: Interpersonal Violence

  • Creates an elder abuse fatality review team in each judicial circuit to review deaths of elderly persons under certain circumstances.

STATUS: As of 2/20/2019, adopted as a complete CS by the Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee.

10) SB 916: Interpersonal Violence

  • Redefines the term “cyberstalk” as the term relates to prohibited acts;
  • Provides that a person commits an offense against users of certain electronic devices if he or she willfully, knowingly, and exceeding authorization performs specified acts.

STATUS: As of 2/19/2019, referred to the Criminal Justice, Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice, and Appropriations Committees of the Senate.

11) HB297/SB768: Interpersonal Violence

  • Prohibits attorney fee awards in certain domestic, dating, or repeat violence injunction proceedings.  

STATUS: As of 1/23/2019, referred to committees for Judiciary, Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice, and Appropriations.

12) HB 563 (Similar to SB 990): Interpersonal Violence

  • Prohibits certain victims of domestic violence from being disqualified for benefits and prohibits employment records of employing units from being charged in certain circumstances.

STATUS: As of 2/6/2019, referred to Workforce Development and Tourism Subcommittee, Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee, and Commerce Committee.

13) HB 115 (CS/SB124): Dependency

  • Specifies venue in proceedings for appointment of guardian for child who has been adjudicated dependent;
  • Authorizes court to receive & consider information provided by Guardian ad Litem Program & child's attorney ad litem if child is under jurisdiction of dependency court;
  •  Requires DJJ to notify specified entities & persons of intent to transfer dependent child from commitment facility or program;
  • Adds Guardian ad Litem Program as authorized entity to assist with transition-to-adulthood services.

STATUS: Committees on Children, Family, and Elder Affairs, and Judiciary unanimously approved the Senate Bill with a textual amendment resulting in a CS/SB 124. As of 2/6/2019, the bill is in the Senate Rules Committee.

November 2018

The month when families come together to celebrate Thanksgiving is also dedicated to highlighting the issues faced by runaway and homeless youth. National Runaway Prevention Month and National Homeless Youth Awareness Month are dedicated to raising awareness of the issues facing runaway and homeless youth.

Homeless and runaway youth are at high risk for involvement in the juvenile or criminal justice system. They are also at increased risk of criminal victimization including commercial sexual exploitation.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has put together some resources for families, educators, mental health and child welfare professionals, policy makers, and advocates to better understand and address the issues faced by homeless youth.

The National Network for Youth has information on runaway and homeless youth and resources available to assist youth in crisis.

October 2018

The Florida Guardian ad Litem will propose a bill for the next legislative session that addresses juvenile delinquency and guardianship issues. The proposed bill has received support from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Department of Children and Families, and the Department of Juvenile Justice.

The draft billPDF Download addresses the special circumstances presented when dependent children are involved in multiple court proceedings. When dependent youth also have delinquency charges, the cases are sometimes in different counties or circuits. The proposed bill would allow the court that is best-suited to serve the child to obtain jurisdiction of the case while meeting the needs of other parties associated with the child’s case. The proposed bill also addresses situations where it is determined that a dependent child needs a guardianship prior to his or her 18th birthday.

The bill makes several amendments to Chapter 985 to ensure that the judge making decisions for the child has the greatest amount of information:

Many older youth in foster care are placed outside their circuits. If while placed outside the jurisdiction of the dependency court they are charged with a juvenile offense, the proposed language would allow the court to transfer the case to the dependency jurisdiction post-disposition. See lines 53 – 56 and 11 – 119. Although already permitted by law, it rarely is considered by the parties.

This permitted transfer would allow the dependency court to make decisions that incorporate both placement issues and services the youth needs once a commitment has occurred. According to the September 2018 Child Welfare Key Indicators Monthly ReportPDF Download, 37 % of children are placed outside their removal county and 20% are placed outside their removal circuit.

If a child is under the jurisdiction of a dependency court in another circuit, it would allow the delinquency judge to transfer the delinquency case to the appropriate division of the circuit with jurisdiction of the dependency case after disposition of the case. It would not affect the adjudicatory hearing or disposition hearing.

If a youth has a guardian ad litem appointed under Chapter 39, the bill allows the court to receive and consider any information provided by the child’s GAL at disposition. See lines 74 – 77 and 159 – 162. The proposed bill also includes language to allow the child’s GAL to provide information to the court on the child’s treatment plan progress and issues related to adjustment.

In cases where the Department of Juvenile Justice seeks to transfer a child from one facility or program to another, and the child is under the jurisdiction of the dependency court, the bill would require DJJ to provide notice to the dependency court, the Department of Children and Families, and the GAL Program. See lines 135 – 138 and line 202.

September 2018

Florida's Detention Risk Assessment Instrument (DRAI) is used to determine the most appropriate placement for youth upon arrest while ensuring public safety. The current DRAI is more than 25 years old, but it has just undergone a data-driven transformation. A new DRAI has been approved and will go into effect on July 1, 2018. The Department of Juvenile Justice recently released an overviewPDF Download of the process used to develop the new DRAI and the current plans for implementation over the next year. 

There have been growing concerns related to the time youth are waiting for placements into residential commitment programs. OSCA recently circulated a letterPDF Download to judges handling juvenile delinquency cases on behalf of the Department of Juvenile Justice that details the efforts the department is making to address this issue. 

The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) has existed for some time, but the name has become a bit of a misnomer. While JDAI is about developing alternatives to secure detention, the concept behind it was always much broader. In an effort to inject new energy into this initiative, OSCA and the Department of Juvenile Justice have been working to bring together leaders from the courts, the juvenile justice system, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Education, law enforcement, state attorneys, public defenders, service providers, and other interested stakeholders to create the Florida Youth Justice Commission (FYJC). The FYJC will drive a collaborative system improvement process that is data driven and focused on promoting public safety while ensuring that youth are placed on the most appropriate type of supervision. 

Upcoming Judicial Trainings on Delinquency 

Judges who handle delinquency cases, unified family court, or crossover dockets will want to make plans to attend an upcoming Delinquency Regional Training. The trainings are based on responses from judges to a recent training needs assessment and will cover topics including: case processing, crossover cases, trauma, the new Detention Risk Assessment Instrument, racial and ethnic disparities, and more. The small-group training environment will also facilitate the sharing of best practices and promote consistency of practices statewide. 

OSCA, with the assistance of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Group and in collaboration with the Department of Juvenile Justice, will host four regional trainings this fiscal year and another four in 2019-2020. Each training is for two full days starting at 9:00 a.m. each day. CJE’s will be available for participating judges. The current training schedule includes: 

December 3-4, 2018 – Miami, Florida
(for circuits 11, 16, and 17)

January 31-February 1, 2019 – Orlando, Florida
(for circuits 5, 9, 10, and 18)

March 25-26, 2019 – Tampa, Florida
(for circuits 5, 6, 10, 12, and 13)

April 8-9, 2019 – Tallahassee, Florida
(for circuits 1, 2, 3 and 14)

Participants should select a training location within 50 miles of their home or workplace. For those who need to travel beyond 50 miles to attend a training, OSCA will reimburse travel costs within budgetary allowances. 

All judges who have any involvement with juvenile cases are highly encouraged to attend. 

If you would like to confirm your seat for one of the events listed above or have additional questions, please contact Nathan Moon at 

August 2018

Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice recently released updated information on the myths vs. factsPDF Download surrounding girls in the juvenile justice system. While some believe that there is an increase in girls committing delinquent acts and violent offenses, the reality is that the number of girls charged with a felony offense has declined by 38% since 2009. Moreover, the number of girls charged with a violent felony has declined by 45% since 2009. DJJ’s one-page report details additional findings on the prevalence of girls involved in the juvenile justice system. 

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention also recently released a report on the specialized responses that have been developed to address girls involved in the juvenile justice system. While some outcome data is showing early promise for programs designed to address the specific needs of girls in the juvenile justice system, the report concludes that this is an area in which more research is needed. What is particularly interesting in this report are some of the findings related to differences between girls and boys regarding their pathways to delinquency, offenses committed, and typical judicial processing. This brief report, Specialized Responses for Girls in the Juvenile Justice SystemPDF Download, is well worth a read. 

July 2018

Several new laws went into effect on July 1, 2018. The following will be of interest to judges handling delinquency cases. 

HB 361PDF Download created s. 985.6885, F.S., to specify that state judges, the governor, cabinet members, members of the legislature, state attorneys, public defenders, and certain other authorized people are free to visit juvenile facilities at their pleasure between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. 

SB 1392PDF Download requires state attorneys to develop civil citation/diversion programs in their circuits. The law does not specifically require a member of the judiciary to be a part of the team developing the programs, but the law contemplates participation by “other interested stakeholders” which could potentially include judges. Judges will certainly want to learn about the types of civil citation/diversion programs that will be developed in their circuits. 

SB 1552PDF Download made several changes to juvenile delinquency laws. Some of the changes include: requiring prolific juvenile offenders (PJOs) who violate probation to be held in secure detention until a detention hearing is held, and changing the name of “nonsecure detention” to “supervised release.” Another major part of this bill goes into effect next year, on July 1, 2019. Several of the factors that judges formerly used to make a detention determination will be removed from s. 985.35, F.S. The amendments to the detention statute in this bill were made very shortly after the commission looking into revising the Detention Risk Assessment Instrument (DRAI) approved the new DRAI. The detention factors removed from the statute will essentially be incorporated into the new DRAI and will simply be a part of the youth’s DRAI score. 

The Annie E. Casey Foundation just released the 2018 KIDS COUNT® Data Book. The book uses 16 publicly available indicators of child well-being organized into four domains:  Economic, Education, Health, and Family and Community. The Kids Count project is focused on overall child well-being, but one factor that is considered is the number of youth contacts with the juvenile justice system (per 1,000 youth). In the baseline year of 2011/12 that measure was at 30%. For the most recent year 2016/17, youth contacts with the juvenile justice system had dropped to 17.8%. Florida’s investment in prevention, intervention, and treatment is showing tangible results.

June 2018

The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform has just released a new paper entitled, Transforming Juvenile Justice Systems to Improve Public Safety and Youth OutcomesPDF Download. This short paper provides six actionable strategies that show how system change is possible through collaboration across branches of government and service systems; dedicated partnerships with funders, advocates, and national experts; and by working together with the youth, families, and community members who have the most to gain from better, smarter, and safer juvenile justice systems.

May 2018

While the concept of restorative justice is familiar to many, the idea behind restorative practices is much broader. Restorative justice is a responsive reaction, consisting of either formal or informal responses to crime after it takes place. Restorative practices also include the use of informal and formal processes, but broadens the term by placing a significant emphasis on building social capital and strengthening relationships to prevent conflict and proactively develop a sense of community. Restorative practices can help improve communication, understanding, and interactions among different groups of people in all kinds of environments. Skills learned through restorative practices can lead to improved behaviors and more positive and productive relationships. These types of outcomes should be of great interest to schools, the courts, child welfare, group homes, juvenile justice, residential facilities, etc.

A new interagency workgroup has been formed to expand the use of restorative practices and processes across an array of agencies that serve children and youth. The Department of Children and Families convened the workgroup which includes members from the department, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Education, the Office of the State Courts Administrator, Leon County Sheriff’s Office Victim Advocate’s Office, the City of Tallahassee, and Leon County Delinquency Court. In the kick-off meeting, DCF’s Restorative Practices Specialist presented an overviewPDF Download of what restorative practices are and what DCF is doing across the state to train group home staff on these practices. Workgroup members discussed their understanding of restorative practices and identified what their agencies are already doing to promote and use restorative practices. With the foundation set, the workgroup will next address their vision and goals for moving forward. 

For further reading, The Center for Child Welfare has a wealth of information on restorative practices. 

Successful School-Justice Partnerships often include restorative practices as well. The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform just published a new reportPDF Download on school-justice partnerships which includes information on the benefits of using restorative justice and other restorative practices. 

April 2018

The majority of youth involved with the juvenile justice system have experienced traumatic events. A recent study of youth in detention found that more than 90 percent had experienced at least one trauma, and more than 55 percent reported being exposed to trauma six or more times. For youth who experience traumatic victimization, the brain and nervous system are altered in ways that increase stress reactivity, anger, and impulsivity while reducing the ability to self-regulate. This puts them at high risk for delinquent behavior, contact with law enforcement, and entry into the juvenile justice system.

-- These statements are from an excellent report titled: Trauma Among Youth in the Juvenile Justice SystemPDF Download.


Additional Trauma resources for judges.

To better understand trauma and how to successfully address issues related to trauma in the courtroom, the following resources are essential reading:

Family Court Tool Kit: Trauma and Child Development - developed by the Florida Supreme Court Steering Committee on Families and Children in the Court (Link is to the Court Implications section of the tool kit.)

Bench Card for the Trauma-Informed JudgePDF Download - developed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges)

10 Things Every Juvenile Court Judge Should Know about Trauma and DelinquencyPDF Download - developed by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

Essential Elements of a Trauma-Informed Juvenile Justice SystemPDF Download - developed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network

March 2018

The National Counsel of Juvenile and Family Court Judges held the National Conference on Juvenile Justice in March. The conference offered a wealth of information and innovative practices, including:

February 2018

Though juveniles use opioids at a much lower rate than adults, overdose death rates among those aged 15–19 are highest for opioids, specifically heroin. CDC report here. Youth who do not use opioids may still be at risk of neglect, physical and emotional trauma, and criminal activity via parents, other family members, or friends who abuse opioids.

Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara J. Pariente addressed the opioid crisis in a recent article on how family court judges can respond to this crisis, available here.

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) also recognized that juvenile and family courts are often the initial contact point for opioid abusers and a critical partner in providing substance abuse treatment and support. NCJFCJ has developed some recommended practices and resources for judges, available here.

January 2018

The Florida Legislature is in session and several bills that address juvenile justice matters are moving through the process. Major issues being addressed include: increasing the age for direct file; making the predisposition report an indispensable prerequisite to commitment which cannot be waived; and expanding civil citation and similar diversion programs. To review complete bills, please go to

A major review and update to the Detention Risk Assessment Instrument (DRAI) screening tool is nearing completion. A final meeting to vote on and approve the new DRAI is scheduled for the end of January. If the new DRAI is approved, implementation should begin in the spring and continue through 2018. Part of the implementation plan for the new DRAI calls for training for judges, law enforcement, probation officers, detention staff, and others who work with the juvenile justice system.