2010 Florida Statutes
PURPOSE.—The purpose of community arbitration is to provide a system by which children who commit delinquent acts may be dealt with in a speedy and informal manner at the community or neighborhood level, in an attempt to reduce the ever-increasing instances of delinquent acts and permit the judicial system to deal effectively with cases which are more serious in nature.
Each county may establish community arbitration programs designed to complement the department’s intake process provided in this chapter. Community arbitration programs shall provide one or more community arbitrators or community arbitration panels to hear informally cases which involve alleged commissions of certain delinquent acts by children.
Cases which may be referred to a community arbitrator or community arbitration panel are limited to those which involve violations of local ordinances, those which involve misdemeanors, and those which involve third degree felonies, exclusive of third degree felonies involving personal violence, grand theft auto, or the use of a weapon.
A child who has been the subject of at least one prior adjudication or adjudication withheld for any first or second degree felony offense, any third degree felony offense involving personal violence, grand theft auto, or the use of a weapon, or any other offense not eligible for arbitration, shall not be eligible for resolution of any current offense through community arbitration.
Cases resolved through community arbitration shall be limited pursuant to this subsection.
For each child referred to community arbitration, the primary offense shall be assigned a point value.
Misdemeanor offenses shall be assigned two points for a misdemeanor of the second degree, four points for a nonviolent misdemeanor of the first degree, and six points for a misdemeanor of the first degree involving violence.
Eligible third degree felony offenses shall be assigned eight points.
There is not a restriction on the limit of separate incidents for which a law enforcement officer may refer a child to community arbitration, but a child who has accrued a point value of 12 or more points through community arbitration prior to the current offense shall no longer be eligible for community arbitration.
The point values provided in this paragraph shall also be assigned to a child’s prior adjudications or adjudications withheld on eligible offenses for cases not referred to community arbitration.
COMMUNITY ARBITRATORS.—The chief judge of each judicial circuit shall maintain a list of qualified persons who have agreed to serve as community arbitrators for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this chapter. Community arbitrators shall meet the qualification and training requirements adopted in rule by the Supreme Court. Whenever possible, qualified volunteers shall be used as community arbitrators.
Each community arbitrator or member of a community arbitration panel shall be selected by the chief judge of the circuit, the senior circuit court judge assigned to juvenile cases in the circuit, and the state attorney. A community arbitrator or, in the case of a panel, the chief arbitrator shall have such powers as are necessary to conduct the proceedings in a fair and expeditious manner.
A community arbitrator or member of a community arbitration panel shall be trained or experienced in juvenile causes and shall be:
Either a graduate of an accredited law school or of an accredited school with a degree in behavioral social work or trained in conflict resolution techniques; and
A person of the temperament necessary to deal properly with cases involving children and with the family crises likely to be presented to him or her.
PROCEDURE FOR INITIATING CASES FOR COMMUNITY ARBITRATION.—
Any law enforcement officer may issue a complaint, along with a recommendation for community arbitration, against any child who such officer has reason to believe has committed any offense that is eligible for community arbitration. The complaint shall specify the offense and the reasons why the law enforcement officer feels that the offense should be handled by community arbitration. Any juvenile probation officer or, at the request of the child’s parent or legal custodian or guardian, the state attorney or the court having jurisdiction, with the concurrence of the state attorney, may refer a complaint to be handled by community arbitration when appropriate. A copy of the complaint shall be forwarded to the appropriate juvenile probation officer and the parent or legal custodian or guardian of the child within 48 hours after issuance of the complaint. In addition to the complaint, the child and the parent or legal custodian or guardian shall be informed of the objectives of the community arbitration process; the conditions, procedures, and timeframes under which it will be conducted; and the fact that it is not obligatory. The juvenile probation officer shall contact the child and the parent or legal custodian or guardian within 2 days after the date on which the complaint was received. At this time, the child or the parent or legal custodian or guardian shall inform the juvenile probation officer of the decision to approve or reject the handling of the complaint through community arbitration.
The juvenile probation officer shall verify accurate identification of the child and determine whether or not the child has any prior adjudications or adjudications withheld for an offense eligible for community arbitration for consideration in the point value structure. If the child has at least one prior adjudication or adjudication withheld for an offense which is not eligible for community arbitration, or if the child has already surpassed the accepted level of points on prior community arbitration resolutions, the juvenile probation officer shall consult with the state attorney regarding the filing of formal juvenile proceedings.
If the child or the parent or legal custodian or guardian rejects the handling of the complaint through community arbitration, the juvenile probation officer shall consult with the state attorney for the filing of formal juvenile proceedings.
If the child or the parent or legal custodian or guardian accepts the handling of the complaint through community arbitration, the juvenile probation officer shall provide copies of the complaint to the arbitrator or panel within 24 hours.
The community arbitrator or community arbitration panel shall, upon receipt of the complaint, set a time and date for a hearing within 7 days and shall inform the child’s parent or legal custodian or guardian, the complaining witness, and any victims of the time, date, and place of the hearing.
The law enforcement officer who issued the complaint need not appear at the scheduled hearing. However, prior to the hearing, the officer shall file with the community arbitrator or the community arbitration panel a comprehensive report setting forth the facts and circumstances surrounding the allegation.
Records and reports submitted by interested agencies and parties, including, but not limited to, complaining witnesses and victims, may be received in evidence before the community arbitrator or the community arbitration panel without the necessity of formal proof.
The testimony of the complaining witness and any alleged victim may be received when available.
Any statement or admission made by the child appearing before the community arbitrator or the community arbitration panel relating to the offense for which he or she was cited is privileged and may not be used as evidence against the child either in a subsequent juvenile proceeding or in any subsequent civil or criminal action.
If a child fails to appear on the original hearing date, the matter shall be referred back to the juvenile probation officer who shall consult with the state attorney regarding the filing of formal juvenile proceedings.
DISPOSITION OF CASES.—
Subsequent to any hearing held as provided in subsection (5), the community arbitrator or community arbitration panel may:
Recommend that the state attorney decline to prosecute the child.
Issue a warning to the child or the child’s family and recommend that the state attorney decline to prosecute the child.
Refer the child for placement in a community-based nonresidential program.
Refer the child or the family to community counseling.
Refer the child to a safety and education program related to delinquent children.
Refer the child to a work program related to delinquent children and require up to 100 hours of work by the child.
Refer the child to a nonprofit organization for volunteer work in the community and require up to 100 hours of work by the child.
Order restitution in money or in kind in a case involving property damage; however, the amount of restitution shall not exceed the amount of actual damage to property.
Continue the case for further investigation.
Require the child to undergo urinalysis monitoring.
Impose any other restrictions or sanctions that are designed to encourage responsible and acceptable behavior and are agreed upon by the participants of the community arbitration proceedings.
The community arbitrator or community arbitration panel shall determine an appropriate timeframe in which the disposition must be completed. The community arbitrator or community arbitration panel shall report the disposition of the case to the juvenile probation officer.
Any person or agency to whom a child is referred pursuant to this section shall periodically report the progress of the child to the referring community arbitrator or community arbitration panel in the manner prescribed by such arbitrator or panel.
Any child who is referred by the community arbitrator or community arbitration panel to a work program related to delinquent children or to a nonprofit organization for volunteer work in the community, and who is also ordered to pay restitution to the victim, may be paid a reasonable hourly wage for work, to the extent that funds are specifically appropriated or authorized for this purpose; provided, however, that such payments shall not, in total, exceed the amount of restitution ordered and that such payments shall be turned over by the child to the victim.
If a child consents to an informal resolution and, in the presence of the parent or legal custodian or guardian and the community arbitrator or community arbitration panel, agrees to comply with any disposition suggested or ordered by such arbitrator or panel and subsequently fails to abide by the terms of such agreement, the community arbitrator or community arbitration panel may, after a careful review of the circumstances, forward the case back to the juvenile probation officer, who shall consult with the state attorney regarding the filing of formal juvenile proceedings.
REVIEW.—Any child or his or her parent or legal custodian or guardian who is dissatisfied with the disposition provided by the community arbitrator or the community arbitration panel may request a review of the disposition to the appropriate juvenile probation officer within 15 days after the community arbitration hearing. Upon receipt of the request for review, the juvenile probation officer shall consult with the state attorney who shall consider the request for review and may file formal juvenile proceedings or take such other action as may be warranted.
FUNDING.—Funding for the provisions of community arbitration may be provided through appropriations from the state or from local governments, through federal or other public or private grants, through any appropriations as authorized by the county participating in the community arbitration program, and through donations.
s. 5, ch. 90-208; s. 48, ch. 97-238; s. 20, ch. 98-207; s. 133, ch. 99-3; s. 27, ch. 2006-120.
Former s. 39.026; s. 985.304.