If your son or daughter has recently been arrested in Okaloosa County, you are probably looking for answers from someone you can trust. I want you to know that I am a parent too and I want to help your family through this difficult time.
The juvenile court system is different from the adult system in one very important way: The purpose of the adult system is to punish someone for their crimes. The purpose of the juvenile system is to rehabilitate someone so that they don’t repeat their crimes once they are adults.
Okaloosa County Has Fair and Compassionate Juvenile Judges
Probably the biggest difference is that in juvenile court, your child does not have the right to a jury trial like in adult court. In juvenile court, the Judge acts as the judge and jury and decides guilt or innocence. Here in Okaloosa County, we are very fortunate to have very smart and compassionate judges that preside over juvenile cases. Our two judges are Honorable Jay Gontarek and Honorable Terrence Ketchel.
While both of these judges are fair judges, it can still be a very stressful experience to have to stand in front of the court and make quick decisions with your son or daughter while the judge waits. And keep in mind, you will be required to stand with your child since you are responsible for what they did as their parent.
Wouldn’t you feel better having an experienced and dedicated juvenile defense attorney standing at you and your child’s side?
If it Is “Only” a Juvenile Case, the Record Won’t Be Public, Right?
This is a common misconception a lot of people have. While there is more privacy with juvenile records than adult records, the following people/agencies will still be able to access the records:
- Florida Department of Corrections
- Okaloosa County Sheriff
- Fort Walton Beach Police Department
- Niceville Police Department
- Crestview Police Department
- Department of Juvenile Justice
- The Victim of the crime and his/her parents
- Any other local law enforcement agencies
Juvenile Records Are Not Automatically Expunged or Erased
Once the Okaloosa County juvenile case is resolved in court, the case may be eligible for a record expungement or seal. That is something I will review with you when we meet to discuss the case.
Flaherty & Merrifield can give your family the help you need. If your child has been arrested in Okaloosa County, call us at (850) 243-6097.