As a Jacksonville Juvenile Lawyer, I can tell you that juvenile law is different than the adult criminal process.
If a child is arrested in Jacksonville, that child has certain rights. A juvenile criminal attorney is required at each stage of a juvenile proceeding. The juvenile has to be told of his right to counsel and if he or she wants to waive counsel, the court has to conduct an extensive inquiry to determine whether the child freely and intelligently made the waiver.
This “waiver” of counsel occurs only if the child had the opportunity to confer with a juvenile defense lawyer regarding:
1. the child’s right to counsel
2. the consequences of waiving counsel
3. any other factors regarding the child’s rights.
When conducting the inquiry of the child, the judge has to tell the juvenile the benefits he or she would give up and the danger of representing him or herself, determine whether the child’s choice was voluntarily and intelligently made, and determine whether any unusual circumstances existed which would prevent the child from exercising the right to represent him or herself.
After the inquiry is conducted, the waiver has to be in writing and given to the court in the presence of a parent, legal guardian or custodian, or a Florida criminal defense attorney.