Failure to Comply with Juvenile’s Right to Counsel Procedure Results in Reversal of Delinquency
Kelly L. Rooth, Shareholder
Florida Juvenile Procedure Rule 8.165 requires the trial court advise a child of the child’s right to counsel. Unless the child waives the right to counsel at every stage of the proceeding, the court must appoint counsel.
Earlier this month, in A.M.E. v. State, the Second District Court of Appeal (“DCA”) reversed the trial court’s disposition order, which adjudicated defendant juvenile A.M.E. delinquent on charges of burglary of an occupied dwelling and petit theft, and committed her to a moderate risk facility under she turned nineteen years old.
At her first court appearance, A.M.E. waived her right to an attorney, signed a waiver of counsel, and entered a guilty plea. She later returned to court for a disposition hearing, where the trial court did not renew its offer of counsel prior to adjudicating A.M.E. delinquent.
The Second DCA found that the waiver form and the trial court’s abbreviated colloguy were inadequate to comply with the requirements under Florida Juvenile Procedure Rule 8.165. The trial court also failed to thoroughly inquire into A.M.E.’s understanding of the offer of counsel and failed to properly renew the offer of counsel at the disposition hearing. Accordingly, the Second DCA found that the trial court’s failure to comply with Juvenile Procedure Rule 8.165 constituted reversible error and reversed its order adjudicating A.M.E. delinquent.