Bill filed to reduce juvenile misdemeanor arrests

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Other than arrest, more juveniles could receive civil citations for misdemeanors under a new bill filed by a Miami-Dade County Republican on Friday.

Presented by state Sen. Rene Garcia of Hialeah, SB 378 would remove the part of state law saying the only available punishments for first-time misdemeanor offenders are civil citations or similar diversion programs.

The bill expands civil citation and diversion programs to beyond “first-time offenses” to cover certain “second or subsequent offenses.” Local law enforcement may arrest a juvenile for first-time misdemeanors under exceptional circumstances and provides written documentation explaining why the arrest was justified to protect public safety.

In addition, the bill gives officers a choice of issuing a simple warning or notifying a parent or guardian about a misdemeanor.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.