When Can a Juvenile be Charged as an Adult in Okaloosa County?
A juvenile is any person under the age of 18. The short answer is yes, a person under the age of 18 can be charged as an adult in the state of Florida. The State of Florida has strict guidelines for charging a child as an adult. In some cases the prosecutor has the “discretion” to charge the child as an adult. In other cases the charge or age of the child make the transfer to adult court mandatory.
While not all offenses can be kept in the juvenile court system, having an experienced and dedicated juvenile defense attorney can make a huge difference when it comes to keeping the case in juvenile court where it belongs
If your son or daughter has been arrested in Okaloosa County, contact Flaherty Defense Firm today for a free consultation at (850) 243-6097. As parents of teenagers we understand the uncertainty that comes with defending a child. Let our 14 years of experience defending juveniles work for your family.
How does Florida handle the issue of charging juveniles in adult court?
Florida charges more juveniles as adults than any other state. While your child may not be immediately sent to adult jail pending trial, your child will be treated as an adult and have adult consequences. Having your child’s case transferred to adult court takes the consequences from being rehabilitative in nature to punitive. The goal of the adult system is punishment and not rehabilitation. If your child is charged as an adult you can expect the consequences to be punishing and life altering. In Florida there are certain criteria set by statute that allow for a child to be charged as an adult.
Do prosecutors have discretion in deciding where to charge my child?
Yes they do. Prosecutors in Okaloosa County will consider a number of factors including prior criminal history, the facts of the offense charged, family situation and mitigation. What this means is that the State Attorney, not a judge, can make a determination as to whether or not your child’s case remains in juvenile court or is transferred to adult court. The State Attorney has all the power to impose adult sanctions on your child without needing to ask a judge.
The time between an arrest and when the state makes a decision on your child’s case is critical. A seasoned juvenile attorney can work with you and your child to make sure the State Attorney keeps the charge in juvenile court.
My child was arrested at 16. Will he or she be tried as an adult?
Any child 16 or 17 years old charged with ANY felony or a third time misdemeanor can be charged as an adult. It is the prosecutor’s discretion to transfer the case to adult court at any point.
What if my child is 15? Can he be charged in adult court?
For a child 14 or 15 years old, the State has the discretion to charge as a juvenile or send the case to adult court for the following offenses:
- Sexual Battery
- Aggravated abuse
- Armed Burglary
- Lewd of Lascivious offenses
- Grand Theft
- Grand Theft of a Motor Vehicle
Are there charges where it is mandatory that it be filed in adult court?
Yes, in some cases the discretion has been removed from the prosecutor and the child’s case will be transferred per statute and sentenced as an adult offender.
Regardless of age at the time of the offense, transfer to adult court is mandatory for offenses involving:
- Theft of a motor vehicle resulting in serious bodily injury or death
- Offenses involving Firearms
There are a number of other scenarios where it is mandatory that the case be transferred to adult court if the child is 16 or 17 years old. Mandatory transfer to adult court involves any child 16 or 17 years old and applies to ANY felony where the child has been previously adjudicated delinquent for a prior felony involving any of following offenses/criteria:
- Attempt, commit or conspiracy to commit murder
- Sexual Battery
- Armed or strong-armed robbery
- Home Invasion
- Aggravated Battery/Aggravated Assault
- Second or subsequent violent crime again a person
- Forcible Felony
- Weapons Offenses
If you want your child to have the possibility of a future it is imperative that you do everything you can to keep them in juvenile court. Our first priority at Flaherty Defense Firm is simple, keep the child out of adult court and minimize the potential damage as quickly as possible. Taking action immediately can make all the difference.
If your child was arrested in Okaloosa County for a juvenile offense, contact Flaherty Defense Firm today at (850) 243-6097. Now more than ever you need a strong team of advocates fighting for your family.