Florida Charges Minors as Adults More Than Any Other State

A 17-year-old Florida minor allegedly fatally shot a man as he withdrew money from an ATM, as reported by Miami Herald. The defendant was charged with second degree murder. The youth had previously been arrested at least 13 times before, with the first arrest occurring when he was 11 years old. Previous charges included petit larceny, strong armed robbery, grand theft, and illegally carrying of a concealed weapon. As a minor, a defendant usually faces a different set of penalties than an adult. However, in some cases a minor can be tried as an adult, such as the case of murder. Furthermore, thousands of Florida minors are tried each year for much lesser crimes than second degree homicide.

Low Level Offenses

Most low level crimes that are committed by minors can be tried in juvenile court. Minors face much lower penalties than adults who committed the same offense. For example, take the act of “sexting” into consideration. As per Florida statute 847.1041, a minor who commits the act of  sexting a pornographic image of another minor shall promise to appear in juvenile court, or complete eight hours of community service and pay a $60 civil penalty, or participate in a cyber-safety program. Failing to comply will result in a first degree misdemeanor. The penalty for possession of minor pornography by an adult, on the other hand, is a third degree felony under Florida statute 847.0137, punishable by up to five years in prison. Other common juvenile violations that are typically tried in juvenile court include:

  • Criminal mischief
  • Burglary;
  • Theft;
  • Simple assault;
  • Simple battery;
  • Resisting arrest;
  • Disorderly conduct;
  • Underage drinking; and
  • Possession of a fake ID.

Serious Offenses

The more serious the offense, and the older the defendant, the more likely that they will be tried in adult court. And unfortunately, Florida is one of the worst states in the country when it comes to prosecuting children as adults, even for lower level crimes. One of the key issues to this endemic problem is “direct filing” that allows a prosecutor to move a minor from juvenile court to adult court without any say from a judge. In fact, Florida moves twice as many children from juvenile courts to adult courts as the next leading state, and five times more often than the average of 12 other states, according to MSNBC. Minors are routinely tried in adult court for:

  • Grand theft (the theft of property valued at $300 or more), punishable as a third degree felony;
  • Aggravated battery serious bodily injury, punishable as a second degree felony with up to 15 years in prison;
  • Possession of 20 grams or more (and less than 25 pounds) of marijuana, punishable by up to five years in prison as a third degree felony.

Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If your minor child has been arrested for any crime, it is imperative that you seek experienced West Palm Beach legal counsel at once to defend your child’s rights and to protect them from unnecessary and unjustified penalties. Call the Skier Law Firm at once to talk with one of our criminal defense lawyers today.

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