If your child is arrested as a juvenile and his or her case is kept in juvenile court, their sentence will most likely be determined by the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Once a child enters a plea to a criminal charge or is convicted, they must be evaluated by the DJJ and their recommendation must be followed.
If a juvenile judge wants to depart from the recommendations of DJJ, he or she must explain and justify why one restrictiveness level is more appropriate than the other. In explaining, the judge must:
1. Articulate an understanding of the respective characteristics of the opposing restrictiveness levels, including the type of child that each restrictiveness level is designed to serve, the potential lengths of stay associated with each level, and the different treatment programs available to each of the levels.
2. Then logically explain why, in light of all the different characteristics, one level is better for the juvenile and the community than the other.
Juvenile attorneys in Jacksonville would obviously argue for the least restrictive level, but in the end, the DJJ has the most say.