October 24, 2011

Order of Juvenile Detention Did Not Violate Florida Law

Fourth DCA:  Trial Court Order of Juvenile Detention Pending Placement in Residential Program Did Not Violate Florida Law

V.P. v. State
Case No. 4D11-3001

The trial court adjudicated V.P. delinquent on a first-degree petit theft count, and revoked V.P.’s probation for counts of battery, second-degree petit theft, and grand theft. Pending placement in a moderate risk residential program, the trial court put V.P. on home detention with electronic monitoring and an 8 p.m. curfew. V.P. brought a petition for writ of habeus corpus, arguing the trial court’s order violated the requirement of section 985.27(1)(b), Florida Statutes (2011) because “there is no statutory authority for unlimited home detention and . . . the phrase ‘must be removed from detention within 5 days’ in the first sentence [of section 985.27(1)(b)] limits all forms of detention to five days,” unless extended an additional ten days upon request of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

The Fourth District Court of Appeal stressed that the statute needed to be read in its entirety. The court reasoned that (1) home detention pending placement in a residential program was the least restrictive form of detention care available, (2) the “detention” that the statute referred to and limited to fifteen days is secure detention rather than home detention, and (3) parts of the statute would be rendered meaningless if the child had to be removed from home detention within five days. The Fourth DCA also noted that post-commitment juveniles have been found guilty of an offense and therefore no longer enjoy the presumption of innocence. The court concluded:

The legislature has structured the post-commitment detention statute in a manner that ensures that all committed juveniles awaiting placement in residential programs are physically detained or supervised in some fashion, not released without restrictions. The statute insures that those juveniles who are awaiting placement in low or moderate risk facilities do not languish in secure detention.

The court therefore denied V.P.’s petition.