When a child is arrested for a crime, it can negatively affect the rest of their life. The state of Florida transfers more juveniles to adult court than any other state according to the Federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. With the help of an experienced Palm Beach and Broward County juvenile defense lawyer, your child may be able to bypass Florida’s intense criminal justice system. If your child has been charged with a crime, contact us, or call us at (561) 671-5995 as time is of the essence.
Can a Minor Be Charged as an Adult in Florida?
If a crime is severe enough, a child may be tried as an adult. Some examples of serious juvenile crimes include robbery with a deadly weapon, homicide, or rape. Typically, if the crime is violent in nature or the child is 16 years or older, there is a good chance they will be tried as an adult in Florida.
For example, in the Reeters case, a juvenile was charged as an adult for armed carjacking, robbery with a firearm, aggravated fleeing and eluding (high speed), and driving without a license. Reeters v. Israel, 223 So.3d 365, 265. Juveniles can now be charged with life sentences like adults and bond may be denied where the proof of guilt is evident or where the presumption is great. Id. Both the carjacking and armed robbery with a firearm charge are punishable by life sentences in Florida and can be extended to juveniles. Id. at 266.
How Juvenile Delinquents Are Processed in Florida
Oftentimes, a child who has committed a delinquent act or that is charged with a crime may be given a civil citation if it is a first-time misdemeanor offense. They may also be released to a probation office, diversion program, or a Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) where they are risk assessed by a Juvenile Probation Officer. It is at a Juvenile Probation Officer’s discretion to make recommendations with the State Attorney on the proper course of action.
Florida Juvenile Detention Hearing
If a child in Florida is held in a detention center after an evaluation by a Juvenile Probation Officer, the court must hold a detention hearing within 24 hours. This hearing will determine why a child is being detained and for how long. Typically, a child should not be held in a detention center for more than 21 days.
Florida Juvenile Arraignment Hearing
It is imperative to seek guidance from an experienced Palm Beach and Broward County juvenile defense lawyer before a juvenile arraignment hearing takes place as this hearing is held so a child can respond to their allegations and defend themselves. If a child admits guilt to an allegation in the petition, a deposition hearing can be scheduled for the earliest time possible. If a child denies allegations with the help of an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney, an adjudicatory hearing will be scheduled.
Florida Juvenile Adjudicatory Hearing
In Florida, an adjudicatory hearing for a juvenile is conducted with a judge and no jury. In this hearing, the state has the burden of proof to confirm the allegations in the petition for delinquency beyond a reasonable doubt. While a child can testify on their own behalf, this is never recommended. If the court finds the child has in fact violated the law, the child can be adjudicated guilty or sentenced to a withhold of adjudication of guilt. If the court withholds the adjudication on a child, they will not be convicted of a crime even though they may be guilty.
Florida Juvenile Disposition Hearing
If a disposition hearing is scheduled for a juvenile in Florida, the judge will determine the punishment(s) that will be imposed. Frequently, the Department of Juvenile Justice will make recommendations to the judge which they must consider before sentencing. Some penalties for juveniles in Florida may include restitution, school progress monitoring, rehabilitation, counseling, or community service depending on the severity of the crime.
Lawyer for Juvenile Crimes Defense in Palm Beach County
The arrest of your child can be both scary and heartbreaking. Both you and your child are now about to enter the complex juvenile delinquency system in Florida. It is important to remember that juvenile records in Florida are not confidential and schools or employers will have access to them for the remainder of the child’s life. It is important to contact an experienced juvenile defense attorney in Palm Beach or Broward Counties to protect your child’s rights. The Law Offices of Matthew Konecky has drawn on 18 years of criminal defense experience providing you and your child with a clear explanation of the law and expert representation. If your child was arrested for a crime in Florida, contact us or call us at (561) 671-5995 today.