As lawyers for people accused of crimes, we know that this is scary for parents. Like Texas and Arizona, Florida has some of the toughest laws in the country. If a minor is found guilty or pleads guilty in a criminal court for adults, they will get the same punishment as if they were 18 or older. Again, they won't get any special treatment or breaks because they are young.
Also, if a minor is charged as an adult in Florida, he or she will always be tried as an adult if he or she commits another state-level crime in the future.
What the law in Florida says?
Under Florida law, if a minor commits a felony, they can be tried as an adult and their case will be sent to the criminal division for adults. What does it mean to face adult charges? It means that the juvenile will be treated like an adult. Even though they are legally a child, they will not be treated any differently. The young person who broke the law will go through the same steps and face the same punishments as an adult who did the same thing.
When the crime is bad enough, like robbery with a deadly weapon, murder, rape, etc., juveniles are usually charged and tried as adults. Because Florida doesn't have a minimum age requirement, a 12-year-old child can be tried as an adult.
When a Minor Can Be Tried as an Adult in Florida
A child can be tried as an adult in Florida when:
The young person had already been tried as an adult, and once someone has been tried as an adult, they will always be tried as an adult in the future.
The child on trial has a long history of breaking the law, and the juvenile court system has tried to punish him or her but it hasn't worked.
The crime was very bad and violent, like armed robbery or murder.
The crime was sexually motivated, like rape.
Florida is the state that charges the most minors as adults. Whether or not your child will go through the criminal justice system depends on his or her age, whether or not he or she has a criminal history, how bad the crime was, and other factors.
The goal of the juvenile justice system is to help young people change their behavior so they don't turn into criminals in the future. The goal of the criminal justice system is to punish criminals. Keep in mind that the courts like to send minors to juvenile court unless the crime they are accused of is very bad.
The Rules of Juvenile vs. Adult Court in Florida: Understanding Direct File, Waiver, and Indictment
Direct file: Because of a law called "direct file," 98 percent of Florida's children end up in the criminal justice system. With this rule, prosecutors can move the case of a minor from juvenile court to adult court without the judge or jury's permission. There are two kinds of direct files: ones that are optional and ones that are required. The first one says that prosecutors can charge a child who is 14 or older with certain felonies, while the second one says that a child who is 16 or older can be charged with certain crimes. But there is no age limit for people who commit crimes that can lead to life in prison or death.
Waiver: There are three kinds of waivers: ones that are forced, ones that are forced but not forced, and ones that are forced but not forced. A prosecutor may file a motion asking the court to move a child's case to adult court. This is called an "involuntary discretionary waiver." With an involuntary mandatory waiver, a prosecutor can ask for a child's case to be moved to adult court if the child is accused of a second or more violent crime and has already been found delinquent. A "voluntary waiver" is when a child asks to be tried in an adult court.
Indictment: The State can ask for a grand jury indictment if a minor, of any age, is charged with a crime that could lead to death or life in prison.
Once a prosecutor decides to try a minor in adult court, the child's rights will be taken away during the trial. Teenagers who break the law will get the same punishments as adults.
The worst thing that can happen to a parent is to wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of the phone ringing and find out that their child has been arrested. After trying to figure out what your child did to get locked up, you might think about whether he or she can be charged as an adult.
Controversial Views on Juveniles Tried as Adults in Florida
Depending on whom you ask. People who support this may say that justice requires it or that the juvenile court system has been shown to not work. Family and friends of people who have been hurt by juvenile crimes usually support the practice.
People who don't like the practice might say that the system replaces rehabilitation with punishment, that juveniles don't have the skills to survive in prisons made for adults, that the system is biased against people of color, that "tough on crime" laws haven't worked, and that there are better ways to punish people.
Juvenile vs Adult Court: Understanding the Differences in the Prosecution Process
Juveniles are generally prosecuted for allegedly committing delinquent acts, rather than crimes. An extremely serious delinquent act may be instead considered a criminal offense and tried in adult court.
In most cases the juvenile court process is not as formal as that of adult court; for instance, rules regarding whether evidence is admissible may be more lenient than with the adult court procedure.
In the adult court system, the focus is to punish the defendant according to the crime he/she allegedly committed. In the juvenile court system, the focus is to rehabilitate and serve the best interest of the minor. The court will decide what action to take once it is determined that the juvenile is guilty.
Contact a lawyer at The Arroyo Law Firm if your child is in the adult court system
Here at the Arroyo Law Firm, we offer complete defense services and inexpensive payment plans to help offenders defend their rights. For a free case evaluation, reach out to us online or by phone at 407-770-9000. Knowing your alternatives won't cost you anything, even if you decide not to hire us.