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Juvenile criminal defense: The consequences, and what parents need to know

| May 27, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Minors who get in trouble with the law will face juvenile charges in most cases. These criminal offenses that they are accused of could be anything from drug crimes to assault and battery, but they all require a strong defense.

In Florida, prosecutors don’t go easy on juveniles just because they’re children. This state leads the country in the total number of juveniles who are charged and tried at the adult level.

Is your child at risk of being tried as an adult?

It’s possible that your child could be tried as an adult if they are 16 or older and commit a violent offense. The reason for this is that the prosecution has the option to “direct file,” which means that they can place your child’s case directly into the adult system.

Unfortunately, this means that your child won’t have the same kinds of protections that they’d get in juvenile court.

What if your child isn’t charged or tried as an adult?

It may be that your child is too young to be tried as an adult or that the prosecution doesn’t want to pursue a charge at the adult level because it wasn’t violent or serious enough to do so. In that case, your child’s case will move through the juvenile justice system.

There are still harsh penalties to be had at this level. If your child is convicted of a crime at the juvenile level, they will go to a residential facility or receive a YES plan. The YES plan, a Youth-Empowered Success Plan, is established before they are released to their parents or other guardians. If they go to a residential facility, they will live there and receive treatment or rehabilitation support to help them avoid breaking the law again in the future.

The penalties that your child receives and how they impact them in the future will depend on the defense that your attorney builds for them. If you build a strong defense from the beginning, it may help your child avoid residential treatment or a YES plan and instead move them into a diversion program or have the case dropped completely.