If your child has been arrested in Fort Lauderdale there is always a chance they can be tried as an adult. This a serous and frightening predicament to be in. A young person can be emotionally destroyed forever in an adult prison. A young boy is at the mercy of male adults.
What Is A Juvenile?
A juvenile is anyone under the age of 18.
When Can A Juvenile Be Tried As An Adult?
Fort Lauderdale criminal and juvenile law allows prosecutors to decide whether a juvenile will be tried as an adult. The minimum age is 14 years old in order to be tried as an adult. The age depends on the crime but no minimum age is set for capital offenses.
What Are Fort Lauderdale The Juvenile Laws?
Under Florida law, the court can transfer and certify a child’s criminal case for trial as an adult if the child is alleged to have committed a violation of law and, prior to the commencement of an adjudicatory hearing, the child, joined by a parent or, in the absence of a parent, by the guardian or guardian ad litem, demands in writing to be tried as an adult. Once a child has been transferred for criminal prosecution pursuant to a voluntary waiver hearing and has been found to have committed the presenting offense or a lesser included offense, the child shall be handled thereafter in every respect as an adult for any subsequent violation of state law, unless the court imposes juvenile sanctions under s. 985.565(4)(b).
(2) INVOLUNTARY DISCRETIONARY WAIVER.—Except as provided in subsection (3), the state attorney may file a motion requesting the court to transfer the child for criminal prosecution if the child was 14 years of age or older at the time the alleged delinquent act or violation of law was committed.
(3) INVOLUNTARY MANDATORY WAIVER.—(a) If the child was 14 years of age or older, and if the child has been previously adjudicated delinquent for an act classified as a felony, which adjudication was for the commission of, attempt to commit, or conspiracy to commit murder, sexual battery, armed or strong-armed robbery, carjacking, home-invasion robbery, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, or burglary with an assault or battery, and the child is currently charged with a second or subsequent violent crime against a person; or
(b) If the child was 14 years of age or older at the time of commission of a fourth or subsequent alleged felony offense and the child was previously adjudicated delinquent or had adjudication withheld for or was found to have committed, or to have attempted or conspired to commit, three offenses that are felony offenses if committed by an adult, and one or more of such felony offenses involved the use or possession of a firearm or violence against a person;
the state attorney shall request the court to transfer and certify the child for prosecution as an adult or shall provide written reasons to the court for not making such request, or proceed under s. 985.557(1). Upon the state attorney’s request, the court shall either enter an order transferring the case and certifying the case for trial as if the child were an adult or provide written reasons for not issuing such an order.
(4) WAIVER HEARING.—(a) Within 7 days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, after the date a petition alleging that a child has committed a delinquent act or violation of law has been filed, or later with the approval of the court, but before an adjudicatory hearing and after considering the recommendation of the juvenile probation officer, the state attorney may file a motion requesting the court to transfer the child for criminal prosecution.
(b) After the filing of the motion of the state attorney, summonses must be issued and served in conformity with s. 985.319. A copy of the motion and a copy of the delinquency petition, if not already served, must be attached to each summons.
(c) The court shall conduct a hearing on all transfer request motions for the purpose of determining whether a child should be transferred. In making its determination, the court shall consider:1. The seriousness of the alleged offense to the community and whether the protection of the community is best served by transferring the child for adult sanctions.
2. Whether the alleged offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated, or willful manner.
3. Whether the alleged offense was against persons or against property, greater weight being given to offenses against persons, especially if personal injury resulted.
4. The probable cause as found in the report, affidavit, or complaint.
5. The desirability of trial and disposition of the entire offense in one court when the child’s associates in the alleged crime are adults or children who are to be tried as adults.
6. The sophistication and maturity of the child.
7. The record and previous history of the child, including:a. Previous contacts with the department, the Department of Corrections, the former Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, the Department of Children and Families, other law enforcement agencies, and courts;
b. Prior periods of probation;
c. Prior adjudications that the child committed a delinquent act or violation of law, greater weight being given if the child has previously been found by a court to have committed a delinquent act or violation of law involving an offense classified as a felony or has twice previously been found to have committed a delinquent act or violation of law involving an offense classified as a misdemeanor; and
d. Prior commitments to institutions.
8. The prospects for adequate protection of the public and the likelihood of reasonable rehabilitation of the child, if the child is found to have committed the alleged offense, by the use of procedures, services, and facilities currently available to the court.
(d) Prior to a hearing on the transfer request motion by the state attorney, a study and report to the court relevant to the factors in paragraph (c) must be made in writing by an authorized agent of the department. The child and the child’s parents or legal guardians and counsel and the state attorney shall have the right to examine these reports and to question the parties responsible for them at the hearing.
(e) Any decision to transfer a child for criminal prosecution must be in writing and include consideration of, and findings of fact with respect to, all criteria in paragraph (c). The court shall render an order including a specific finding of fact and the reasons for a decision to impose adult sanctions. The order shall be reviewable on appeal under s. 985.534 and the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure.
(5) EFFECT OF ORDER WAIVING JURISDICTION.—(a) Once a child has been transferred for criminal prosecution pursuant to an involuntary waiver hearing and has been found to have committed the presenting offense or a lesser included offense, the child shall thereafter be handled in every respect as an adult for any subsequent violation of state law, unless the court imposes juvenile sanctions under s. 985.565.
(b) When a child is transferred for criminal prosecution as an adult, the court shall immediately transfer and certify to the adult circuit court all felony cases pertaining to the child, for prosecution of the child as an adult, which have not yet resulted in a plea of guilty or nolo contendere or in which a finding of guilt has not been made. If the child is acquitted of all charged offenses or lesser included offenses contained in the original case transferred to adult court, all felony cases that were transferred to adult court under this paragraph shall be subject to the same penalties such cases were subject to before being transferred to adult court.
These laws are complex and you must do everything you can to keep your child in the Juvenile Court System. This is why you need an experienced juvenile and adult criminal lawyer like Guy Seligman on your side. Contact my criminal juvenile law office in downtown Fort Lauderdale immediately to review the case and plan the criminal defense process.