Articles Posted in Juvenile Crimes

South Florida prosecutors recently announced they would be charging a Fort Lauderdale teen as an adult for his alleged role in an attempted robbery that resulted in the fatal shooting of a construction worker at a convenience store. The state attorney’s office said the 17-year-old suspect reportedly shot the 33-year-old construction worker, who had just exchanged a $100 bill for several $20 bills. The two reportedly started “tussling” when the suspect held the worker at gunpoint, and the suspect in turn fired at least three shots, killing the worker, police said. teen

When teens are charged as adults, it’s via a process known as “direct file,” spelled out in F.S. 985.557. The statute allows that any child who is 14 or 15 at the time of an alleged offense may be subject to a “discretionary direct file” (the discretion being that of the state attorney’s office) for certain felony offenses, including (but not limited to) murder, sexual battery, kidnapping, stalking, child abuse, aggravated battery or armed burglary. A child who is 16 or 17 may be subject to a mandatory direct file if they have previously been adjudicated delinquent for one of these felonies or if the current offense is a “forcible felony” or if the the offense involved possession of a firearm/ destructive device and/ or involved discharge of that weapon.

So while some of these matters may be out of prosecutors’ hands via statute, the fact remains that Florida transfers more children out of the juvenile justice system and into adult court than any other state. The Human Rights Watch reported on this fact in a 2014 investigation. Ninety-eight percent of children who end up in the adult court system do so as a result of the direct file statute, which does not require prosecutors to get any input from a judge.  Continue reading

Broward Sheriff’s detectives are lauding the actions of a mother who turned her teenage son into authorities after spotting him on television news, fleeing on foot from a police helicopter that had been chasing him and three others across four cities along I-95. sadness3

Authorities say she brought her son to the police station around 1:30 a.m. and instructed him to cooperate with deputies. Her actions were deemed “upstanding” and “noble.”

To be sure, parents have a responsibility to hold their children accountable for wrongdoing. At the same time, what some may not realize is that even though these are minors, they can still face adult penalties. That’s why they should receive the same kind of legal defense protection as any adult facing serious charges.  Continue reading

A 15-year-old from Boca Raton is facing charges of vehicular homicide and homicide while engaged in a felony offense after he crashed a stolen Mustang into a Honda Pilot during a police pursuit. Although the teen and his 20-year-old passenger were uninjured, the driver of the Pilot, 46-year-old Wendy Harris, was killed.
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At this time, we’re not naming the teen because he hasn’t (yet) been charged as an adult. However, considering the circumstances of this situation, we recognize it’s highly probable prosecutors will do so.F.S. 985.557 is the “direct file” statute, which spells out situations in which prosecutors have discretion in “direct filing” a juvenile offender as an adult – to face (mostly) adult penalties, and when such action is mandatory.

The statute says that when any child who is 14 or 15 at the time of the alleged offense, prosecutors can seek adult sanctions when the person is arrested for a number of serious and violent felonies, including robbery, sexual assault, arson, aggravated child abuse, aggravated stalking, grand theft, robbery, kidnapping, carjacking or grand theft of a vehicle (when juvenile has a prior adjudication for the same or similar offense). Prosecutors may be required to “Mandatory Direct File” when the child is 16 or 17 at the time of allegedly committing a forcible felony or when any felony offense is committed and the teen has a previous adjudication for a violent felony.

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A measure that would inject some common-sense into the impossibly stringent sentences imposed on young, non-violent offenders in Florida is gaining widespread support.
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Passing by a vote of 37-1 in the Florida Senate, HB 99 would increase the use of civil citations for juveniles who run afoul of the law for crimes like trespassing or shoplifting. It would also grant law enforcement officers discretion to simply issue a warning and notify parents if a juvenile admits to committing a non-violent misdemeanor. The law even allows repeat misdemeanor juvenile offenders to participate in the civil citation diversion program, as opposed to limiting the option to first-time offenders.

The twin bill in the state senate is SB 378.

The effect of this legislation on the lives of minors could be huge.
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