Children and minors frequently make mistakes, often exhibiting impulsivity and errors in judgment. When minors violate the law, the Florida juvenile justice system focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment. It is sometimes less formal than the adult criminal system. Penalties for juvenile crimes are usually less severe than adult crime penalties, with the possibility of sealing and expungement of juvenile records to lessen the impact on the child’s future.
Minors can be Charged as Adults
In cases of felony charges, including rape, murder, and aggravated crimes such as battery or burglary, or for crimes committed with a weapon, a juvenile may be charged, tried, and sentenced as an adult. Severe penalties are reserved for juveniles who are considered high-risk to public safety.
In the United States, there are approximately 1200 people serving life sentences for serious felony crimes they committed as a minor. In January 2021, a seventeen-year-old Florida boy was arrested for the fatal shooting of his girlfriend. He was charged as an adult with manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a minor. He is currently being held without bail in a segregated area in a Marion County, Florida jail.
Factors that Predispose Juveniles to Acts of Crime
The National Criminal Justice Reference Service, a federally funded program of the United States Department of Justice, cites multiple factors that predispose juveniles to commit crimes. Some of these include:
- Peer influence
- Pre-natal alcohol or drug exposure
- Abusive family dynamics
- Socio-economic factors
- Psychological issues
Compassionate and Aggressive Legal Representation for Juveniles
If your child gets in trouble with the law, he or she must have dependable legal counsel to represent them for the best chance of a favorable outcome. The AP Law Group has a proven track record of defending juveniles and adults against misdemeanor and felony criminal charges. We are well-versed and remain current in state and federal laws that affect juvenile offenders. Our attorneys thoroughly investigate and review the evidence in each case and create strategies for the best outcome. We follow through with the sealing or expungement of the criminal records of minors. A criminal record can have devastating impacts on a child’s future, including rejections from colleges and an inability to find employment.
Process of a Juvenile Arrest
When a youth offender is taken into custody for violation of a law, they undergo an assessment at a Juvenile Assessment Center to determine their risk to the public and pending adjudication and disposition. They may be released to their parents, pending the State Attorney’s Office’s assessment of the charges. Alternatively, they can be confined for up to 21 days or longer until they appear before a judge to determine if the case will move forward with sanctions or be dismissed.
There are many types of sanctions proposed for juvenile crimes, such as community service work, random drug testing, restitution to victims, counseling, and more. Penalties can also include probation or placement in a residential facility until they have completed their sentence and are released into the community. For repeat offenders or in the case of severe crimes, a minor can face adult charges.
For first-time arrests, the State Attorney’s office may offer an opportunity to participate in a pre-trial intervention program. If completed successfully, the charges may be dismissed, and they will avoid having a criminal record.
We protect the Rights and Futures of Minors in our Florida Community
At The AP Law Group, we understand how the juvenile justice system can impact a child’s future. Navigating the juvenile court system is stressful and frightening for minors and parents alike. Attorneys Tania Alavi and Andrew Pozzuto work closely with their clients through every stage of the case to the final resolution. Our goal is to give a child a second chance to live up to their potential as productive citizens of our community.
Contact our Gainesville and Ocala offices to schedule an appointment with a trusted and caring juvenile defense attorney. We will relentlessly defend your child’s rights, reputation, and future. Call us today at 352-732-9191. We represent clients in Gainesville and Ocala, Florida, and the surrounding counties.