(1) The adjudicatory hearing must be held as soon as practicable after the petition alleging that a child has committed a delinquent act or violation of law is filed and in accordance with the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure; but reasonable delay for the purpose of investigation, discovery, or procuring counsel or witnesses shall be granted. If the child is being detained, the time limitations in s. 985.26(2) and (3) apply. (2) Adjudicatory hearings shall be conducted without a jury by the court, applying in delinquency cases the rules of evidence in use in criminal cases; adjourning the hearings from time to time as necessary; and conducting a fundamentally fair hearing in language understandable, to the fullest extent practicable, to the child before the court.
(a) In a hearing on a petition alleging that a child has committed a delinquent act or violation of law, the evidence must establish the findings beyond a reasonable doubt.
(b) The child is entitled to the opportunity to introduce evidence and otherwise be heard in the child’s own behalf and to cross-examine witnesses.
(c) A child charged with a delinquent act or violation of law must be afforded all rights against self-incrimination. Evidence illegally seized or obtained may not be received to establish the allegations against the child.
(3) If the court finds that the child named in a petition has not committed a delinquent act or violation of law, it shall enter an order so finding and dismissing the case.
(4) If the court finds that the child named in the petition has committed a delinquent act or violation of law, it may, in its discretion, enter an order stating the facts upon which its finding is based but withholding adjudication of delinquency.
(a) Upon withholding adjudication of delinquency, the court may place the child in a probation program under the supervision of the department or under the supervision of any other person or agency specifically authorized and appointed by the court. The court may, as a condition of the program, impose as a penalty component restitution in money or in kind, community service, a curfew, urine monitoring, revocation or suspension of the driver’s license of the child, or other nonresidential punishment appropriate to the offense, and may impose as a rehabilitative component a requirement of participation in substance abuse treatment, or school or other educational program attendance.
(b) If the child is attending public school and the court finds that the victim or a sibling of the victim in the case was assigned to attend or is eligible to attend the same school as the child, the court order shall include a finding pursuant to the proceedings described in s. 985.455, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld.
(c) If the court later finds that the child has not complied with the rules, restrictions, or conditions of the community-based program, the court may, after a hearing to establish the lack of compliance, but without further evidence of the state of delinquency, enter an adjudication of delinquency and shall thereafter have full authority under this chapter to deal with the child as adjudicated.
(5) If the court finds that the child named in a petition has committed a delinquent act or violation of law, but elects not to proceed under subsection (4), it shall incorporate that finding in an order of adjudication of delinquency entered in the case, briefly stating the facts upon which the finding is made, and the court shall thereafter have full authority under this chapter to deal with the child as adjudicated.
(6) Except as the term “conviction” is used in chapter 322, and except for use in a subsequent proceeding under this chapter, an adjudication of delinquency by a court with respect to any child who has committed a delinquent act or violation of law shall not be deemed a conviction; nor shall the child be deemed to have been found guilty or to be a criminal by reason of that adjudication; nor shall that adjudication operate to impose upon the child any of the civil disabilities ordinarily imposed by or resulting from conviction or to disqualify or prejudice the child in any civil service application or appointment, with the exception of the use of records of proceedings under this chapter as provided in s. 985.045(4).
(7) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an adjudication of delinquency for an offense classified as a felony shall disqualify a person from lawfully possessing a firearm until such person reaches 24 years of age.