Senate passes bill changing how juveniles are charged

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A bill changing how Florida juveniles are punished for non-violent offenses has passed the state Senate.

The bill (HB 301) passed by a 35-1 vote on Monday. It requires law enforcement to issue a civil citation or require participation in a diversion program when the juvenile admits to committing one of 12 first-time misdemeanors, ranging from possession of alcoholic to trespass and disorderly conduct. It will now head to the House of Representatives.

Senate President Joe Negron said that the bill would prevent stigmatizing non-violent, juveniles with a criminal record.

The bill also includes a requirement that the state’s Supreme Court must provide an annual report by Oct. 15 each year to the governor, attorney general and legislative leaders of cases without a decision or deposition beyond 180 days.

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