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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Juvenile Crimes / Florida Has Highest Rate Of Trying Juveniles As Adults

Florida Has Highest Rate Of Trying Juveniles As Adults


For many years running, Florida has had the dubious distinction of having the highest rate of juvenile defendants tried as adults in the nation. While most people agree that those who commit certain crimes should always be tried as adults, Florida is somewhat unusual in having laws that not only allow, but encourage youthful defendants to potentially be tried as adults. If you or your child have been tried as an adult, it is crucial that you understand both why and what this entails.

Direct Filing Ups Numbers

In most cases, a defendant under the age of 18 will face the juvenile court system, because at that age, Florida’s law generally holds that juvenile defendants should have a chance to be rehabilitated. Any punishment is more geared toward avoiding recidivism and teaching the young person the lessons they need, rather than the simple punishment that is more common in adult court. However, the juvenile court system is also generally reserved for those young offenders who commit less serious crimes; offenses that are violent or involve inappropriate sexual contact can and will be transferred to adult court.

Florida law is somewhat unique in that the state has what is called a direct file law, allowing prosecutors the authority to file a case involving a juvenile defendant directly in adult court, without consulting a judge. There are also some other ways for a juvenile’s case to wind up in adult court; for example, if a juvenile has previously been found guilty of an offense in adult court, they must always be tried as an adult afterward, even for another unrelated offense. However, the overwhelming majority of juvenile defendants in adult court are there because of direct filing.

Fighting Charges

If you or your child has been charged as an adult, it can feel as though the odds are against you. The rights that a minor defendant has are waived in an adult proceeding, and sentences are far more punitive than in juvenile court. There is no right for a parent to intervene or for arguing any kind of mitigation grounded in the fact that the offender is a child – indeed, if you or your child are 16 or 17, you may be tried in adult court for any felony crime, without any kind of judge’s order required. (Children aged 14-16 may have their cases direct filed in adult court if they commit certain offenses, but it is not mandatory.)

None of this, however, means that you do not have rights or you are not able to defend yourself. It takes an experienced attorney to be able to handle such high-stakes cases, but with one on your side, you can be certain that you will have your day in court. Weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, potential errors of procedure, and several other legal issues can give you a fighting chance to face consequences that are not as unduly harsh as they could be.

Call A West Palm Beach Juvenile Justice Lawyer

Juvenile justice cases are high stakes simply because a conviction can significantly affect a young person’s future. If you or your child have been charged with a crime in adult criminal court, you need an experienced attorney on your side to get you through the process. The West Palm Beach juvenile crimes lawyers at Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. are ready and willing to try and assist. Call us today to speak to an attorney.




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