As a Jacksonville juvenile attorney, I have helped children and teenagers charged with misdemeanors and felony crimes. Jacksonville juvenile criminal cases are similar to adult cases in the sense that you are trying to obtain the best possible outcome considering the charges, evidence, and defenses. With a criminal case, a Jacksonville criminal lawyer may be working to have the charges dropped. She may be preparing for trial in the event the charges are not dropped. On the other hand, the best possible disposition may be a plea bargain. With many plea deals, defendants are trying to avoid a conviction or jail time. The same is true with some juvenile cases, the defendant is trying to avoid an adjudication as a delinquent and time in a juvenile detention facility.
There are different types of juvenile detention centers. Some are more secure than others. The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) gives a list of the detention centers in Florida. Duval Academy is a juvenile detention center in Jacksonville. This detention center has been in the news recently. Over a week ago, Action News of Jax reported:
“The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice is working to locate seven nonviolent youth offenders who escaped from Duval Academy on the Westside over the past several days. On Friday, two youths absconded from the recreation field of the facility, a non-secure state treatment facility that houses males ages 14-18. DJJ was notified Monday morning about five other juveniles who fled from the facility in an unrelated incident…. According to reports Action News obtained from JSO, a 14- and 17-year-old used a discarded Christmas tree as a ladder to climb a fence early Friday morning. Then, early Monday morning, JSO says another five juvenile inmates between the ages of 15 and 18 also escaped. The report says their rooms were being cleaned after a flood, and that they slipped out the kitchen door when no one was looking. They also climbed a fence to escape.”
Yesterday, this Jacksonville news station gave an update to the story stating, “Action News confirmed on Monday afternoon that another one of the teens who escaped from the Duval Academy is back in custody. Action News was there in the deer point neighborhood Saturday when neighbors told us officers were searching for one or more of the missing teens.” (actionnewsjax.com)
After reading this, it occurred to me that many people look at this story and assume that the children, in essence, “broke out of jail.” This is not a typical jail. It is a non-secure detention facility, so the leaving the premises is much easier. DJJ gives a description of this facility, “The Duval Academy is a structured, non-secure residential treatment program that serves 28 males, ages 14 to 18, who have been adjudicated…. All youth admitted should have approved judicial consent permitting off-site activities allowing participation in job searches and community restoration.”
Due to the escape allegations, these teenagers may be facing new criminal charges. They may also be placed in a more secure facility. Additionally, a person that aids in the escape may also be charged under Florida Statute Section 843.13. This law states:
“Whoever in any manner knowingly aids or assists any inmate of any correctional institution for boys or girls in the state to escape therefrom, or who knowingly, or having good reason to believe that any person is an inmate of such schools and is escaping or attempting to escape therefrom, aids or assists such inmate to make his or her escape or to avoid detention or recapture, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.”