Juvenile Sex Offenses

July 28, 2015

Due to their immaturity and lack of experience, adolescents often exhibit poor decision making skills. While this can causes problems in everyday life, it can have extremely detrimental and life-altering consequences when the results are criminal in nature. Retaining a lawyer who has experience with how the justice system deals with juvenile offenders is vital if you or a loved one has been charged with a sex offense.

Sex Abuse

In Florida, a juvenile sex offender is someone found to have committed a felony violation involving juvenile sex abuse. Juvenile sex abuse is defined as any sexual behavior that occurs without consent, without equality, or through coercion. The types of behavior that constitute juvenile sex offenses include both:

  • Noncontact sexual behavior such as making obscene phone calls, exhibitionism, voyeurism, and the showing or taking of lewd photographs; or
  • Varying degrees of direct sexual contact including frottage, fondling, digital penetration, rape, fellatio, sodomy, and other sexually aggressive acts.

Adjudicatory Hearing and Reporting

If charged with a juvenile sex crime, an adolescent will first undergo an adjudicatory hearing. After the hearing, the court will determine whether a sex offender placement is necessary to protect the interests of public safety and what that treatment will entail. If the juvenile has no history of sexually deviant behavior, the court may order the department to conduct an examination to determine whether the offender is open to community-based treatment.

The results of the examination are then published in a report, which must contain:

  • The juvenile sexual offender’s account of the incident, as well as the official investigation report;
  • The juvenile’s sexual offense history;
  • A multidisciplinary assessment of the sexually deviant behaviors, including an assessment by a certified psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist; and
  • An assessment of the juvenile sexual offender’s family, social, educational, and employment situation.

Creation of a Treatment Plan

Based on this information, the department will then create a treatment plan for the juvenile. The plan will include, at a minimum:

  • How often the offender will meet with a therapist;
  • The specific behaviors to be addressed in the treatment;
  • A description of planned treatment methods;
  • Monitoring plans, including living conditions, school attendance and participation, lifestyle, and monitoring by family members, legal guardians, or others;
  • The anticipated length of treatment;
  • Recommended prohibitions and curfew; and
  • Restrictions on the contact between the juvenile sexual offender and the victim or alleged victim.

If the court finds the offender and the offender’s family amenable to community-based treatment, then it may order the adolescent to attend outpatient treatment for up to three years.

Consequences of Violation

If the juvenile offender violates any of the conditions of his or her treatment plan, then the court may commit the child to a licensed child-caring agency or a facility for juvenile sex offenders.

Convictions for sex offenses have far-reaching consequences in Florida, even for juveniles. If you have been arrested for a sexual offense, it is essential to retain an attorney to defend your case. Please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free consultation.