TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) – The use of civil citations for juvenile offenders in Florida is increasing but are still underutilized by schools and law enforcement agencies across the state.
Civil citations serve as an alternative to arrest for common youth misbehavior, such as fighting, minor drug and alcohol offenses and petty theft.
Rather than being arrested, the kids can do community service and write letters of apology to their victims.
Scott McCoy of the Southern Poverty Law Center says that increasing civil citation usage could save the state millions of dollars and allow law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes.
McCoy says when teenagers are arrested for minor crimes, it sets them up for future run-ins with the law. Sometimes, law enforcement officers have no option but to arrest juveniles, depending on the severity of their crimes and this could prove to be damaging to their futures. Teenagers who get arrested for any minor or serious crimes have every right to contact a criminal defense attorney in their area, (depending on how serious their crime is). Being defended by a professional could help them to get a lighter sentence and to prevent any further run-ins with law enforcement.
Of the 9,000 youth arrested for minor offenses in Florida last year, almost a quarter of them were arrested in the counties of Duval, Hillsborough and Orange.