When can juveniles be charged as adults?

Even if you are under the age of 18, if you are arrested in Florida you can be tried and punished as an adult. In fact, between 2003 and 2008, the State of Florida led the nation in the total number of juveniles transferred into the adult court system, says Human Rights Watch. During that time, the state saw over 12,000 juveniles charged as adults.

If your child is being charged as an adult, call the juvenile defense attorneys at Goldman Wetzel: 727-828-3900.

When might the court transfer my child’s case to an adult court?

There are three main reasons that a court may transfer a juvenile delinquency case to an adult court in Florida. They are:

Voluntary Waiver: If a minor chooses to do so, he or she can demand to be tried as an adult rather than face a juvenile delinquency case. This demand must be in writing and must also have a parent or guardian’s approval.

The defense attorneys at Goldman Wetzel can explain whether or not it would be beneficial to your child’s case to voluntarily move your case to an adult court.

Involuntary Discretionary Waiver: If the prosecutor wants to move a case to an adult court, he or she has the discretion to do so. This means that the state attorney can file a motion requesting a transfer. The only requirement is that the defendant must have been at least 14 years old at the time of the crime. This is called a “direct file.”

Involuntary Mandatory Waiver: There are certain situations where the law requires a prosecutor to file a motion for transfer to an adult court. Even if the prosecutor wants the case to remain in juvenile court, he or she must direct file the case to an adult court.

When does an involuntary mandatory waiver apply?

There are two situations when the law may require a prosecutor transfer your child’s case to adult court:

1) The defendant is at least 14 years old, is being charged with a second/subsequent violent crime, and was previously found guilty of delinquency based on an act, attempted act, or conspiracy to commit a felony, including:

  • Murder
  • Sexual battery
  • Aggravated battery
  • Aggravated assault
  • Carjacking
  • Armed or strong-armed robbery
  • Home-invasion robbery
  • Burglary with an assault or battery

2) The defendant:

  • Was at least 14 years old at the time of the crime
  • Was previously found guilty of three delinquencies (one of which must have involved the use of a fireman or violence against another person) based on an act, attempted act, or conspiracy to commit any felony; and
  • Is facing charges for a fourth felony offense.

If your child’s case falls under either of these two categories, the prosecutor will likely have to transfer it to an adult court.

Goldman Wetzel Can Help

Being tried as an adult can mean harsher penalties and a much less forgiving court system. Our attorneys have years of experience representing clients in juvenile and adult court. We can work to fight the charges altogether and help you leave you without a criminal record.

If this is not possible, our attorneys will work with you to get the best possible outcome short of trial, such as being sentenced as a youthful offender or sentenced “back” as a juvenile.

But call us as soon as possible after an arrest or if you anticipate an arrest so we can discourage the state from direct filing the juvenile to adult court. Contact Goldman Wetzel today to find out more about how we can help: 727-828-3900.

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