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YES on SB 196: Juvenile Civil Citation and Similar Diversion Programs

Take Action! Tell your Senator to support SB 196!

Yesterday, the Florida Senate Committee on Criminal Justice reviewed SB 196, a bill requiring a law enforcement officer to issue a civil citation or to require participation in a diversion program when a juvenile admits to one of the following first-time misdemeanor offenses:

  • Possession of alcoholic beverages by a person under age 21;
  • Battery;
  • Criminal Mischief;
  • Trespass;
  • Theft;
  • Retail and farm theft;
  • Affrays and riots;
  • Disorderly conduct;
  • Possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis;
  • Use, possession, manufacture, delivery, transportation, advertisement, or retail sale of drug paraphernalia; or
  • Resisting an officer without violence.

Law enforcement also has the discretion to issue a civil citation or require participation in a diversion program when a juvenile admits to committing an offense not listed above, or when a juvenile admits to committing a second-time or third-time misdemeanor not listed above. If a law enforcement offer has the discretion to issue a civil citation but chooses to arrest the juvenile instead, her or she must provide a written explanation of why an arrest was warranted. The issuance of a civil citation or a referral to a diversion program does not apply to:

  • A juvenile who is alleged to have committed, is currently charged with, or has plead or has been convicted of a felony; or
  • A misdemeanor offense arising out of an episode in which the juvenile is also alleged to have committed a felony.

The bill, which was introduced by Senator Anitere Flores (R-District 39), passed the committee in a 5-2 vote. Watch the committee meeting here. The text of the bill and the bill analysis and fiscal impact statement are also available. Similar bills, HB 205 and HB 213, have been filed in the Florida House of Representatives. Read the latest report on juvenile civil citations in Florida.

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