It has been a while since we have heard anything about the Cristian Fernandez case. If you are unfamiliar with the case, Fernandez was the youngest person to be charged as an adult instead of remaining in Jacksonville juvenile delinquent court. Cristian Fernandez was only 12-years-old when he faced first-degree murder charges in adult court after being charged with killing his little brother. After the Duval County State Attorney’s Office and his Jacksonville criminal lawyers battled over the case, he finally returned juvenile court. As part of a plea deal, he pleaded to the lesser charge of Florida aggravated battery. Fernandez is 15-years-old now. He has been “serving his four-year sentence in a private state-contracted DJJ facility in Central Florida, where he is ordered to receive sexual abuse and trauma counseling.”
Although the litigation aspect of this Jacksonville juvenile criminal case is over, Fernandez was back in court. News4jax reported about problems that are occurring with Fernandez’ court-ordered treatment:
“Advocates for a teenager who pleaded guilty to killing his half-brother told a judge he is not getting the treatment he needs at the Department of Juvenile Justice…. The Department of Children and Families and his guardian told Juvenile Court Judge David Gooding Tuesday that Fernandez has not received the trauma counseling during his 14 months there. Gooding agreed to a motion that would allow a psychologist to review Fernandez’s treatments…. In court Tuesday, Fernandez’s advocates raised concerns about the recently ended psychosexual therapy he received for sexual dysfunction or emotional withdrawal. The advocates argued Fernandez also needs trauma-focused and cognitive-behavioral therapy.”
When it comes to the juvenile justice system in Florida, courts are focused on rehabilitating children while keeping the community safe at the same time. Florida Statute Section 985.02 is one of Florida’s juvenile criminal laws. This statute states:
(3) JUVENILE JUSTICE AND DELINQUENCY PREVENTION.—It is the policy of the state with respect to juvenile justice and delinquency prevention to first protect the public from acts of delinquency. In addition, it is the policy of the state to:
(a) Develop and implement effective methods of preventing and reducing acts of delinquency, with a focus on maintaining and strengthening the family as a whole so that children may remain in their homes or communities.
(b) Develop and implement effective programs to prevent delinquency, to divert children from the traditional juvenile justice system, to intervene at an early stage of delinquency, and to provide critically needed alternatives to institutionalization and deep-end commitment.
(c) Provide well-trained personnel, high-quality services, and cost-effective programs within the juvenile justice system.
(d) Increase the capacity of local governments and public and private agencies to conduct rehabilitative treatment programs and to provide research, evaluation, and training services in the field of juvenile delinquency prevention.
By having a psychologist to review Fernandez’s treatments, Judge Gooding is making sure that Fernandez is receiving the proper treatment to rehabilitate him. He is also following the legislative intent for juveniles in Florida. “The next court date to review the progress of the psychologist’s review is in about two weeks.”