In most instances, an individual over the age of fourteen at the time of the alleged crime can be tried as an adult in the State of Florida. To be “tried as an adult”, rather than a juvenile, has serious implications regarding the charges that can be filed, the associated punishments, and the effect on the defendant’s future.
Hiring an experienced juvenile criminal defense attorney is the only way for minors to try to avoid prosecution as an adult and to have an opportunity for a clean slate going forward.
Juvenile Rights in Florida
Most individuals under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged crime will be tried as juveniles. Juvenile court differs from “regular” court in numerous ways. A juvenile may be permitted to be placed in a diversion program where they have an opportunity to have their charges dismissed after complete compliance with the terms and conditions set forth for them through the program.
Through these programs, young offenders may be able to participate in community service or probationary periods to make amends and take responsibility for their negative actions.
Considerations for Juveniles to be Tried as Adults
The most critical part of defending a juvenile is for the defense attorney to advocate to keep the defendant in juvenile court. When an offender is under the age of 18, the prosecutor has the option to try an individual over the age of 14 as an adult.
The prosecution may push for this in particularly violent criminal offenses. The defendant then has an opportunity to express why he or she should not be tried as an adult. The court considers the following:
- The seriousness of the offense and effect on the community;
- The interests of the community of trying a child as an adult;
- The level of violence or aggression involved in the underlying crime;
- Whether personal injury resulted;
- Whether personal property was damaged;
- The maturity of the offender;
- Prior offenses, prior probationary periods, previous interactions with police personnel or government agencies; and
- Prospects of rehabilitation.
During this determination, most juveniles in custody will be housed in separate juvenile detention centers, away from the adult offenders being housed in local jails and prisons. However, according to Florida law, “[o]nce a child has been transferred for criminal prosecution pursuant to an involuntary waiver hearing and has been found to have committed the presenting offense or a lesser included offense, the child shall thereafter be handled in every respect as an adult for any subsequent violation of state law.”
Once it is decided that a juvenile will be tried as an adult, the options for the child will drastically change and the possible punishments are increased exponentially.
Orlando, Florida Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorneys
Committing a crime as a minor is viewed by our attorneys at Moses & Rooth as a mistake and misstep in the early years of one’s life. We believe that everyone should be given second chances and believe that only adults should be held responsible for adult decisions. We understand how life-changing adult charges can be for a minor, even if there is not ultimately a conviction.
Our knowledgeable juvenile criminal defense attorneys are former prosecutors who know how the system works and can advocate for keeping minors out of the adult justice system when possible. Contact our Orlando office to learn more about juvenile defendants’ rights today