Juvenile cases that involve serious crimes are sometimes tried in adult criminal court. If a young person has a long history of trouble, he or she may also be tried as an adult. A process called a ‘waiver’ happens when a judge waives the protection offered by a juvenile court.
When are Juveniles Tried as Adults?
Most states require a minimum age requirement of 16 for a juvenile offender to be eligible for a waiver. Some states, however, allow minors as young as 13 to be tried as adults. In jurisdictions with harsher laws, any child can be subjected to a waiver petition into adult court for serious crimes such as homicide.
A judge could decide to grant a waiver petition if the following conditions exist:
- The offense is very serious.
- The juvenile charged has a lengthy record.
- The juvenile is older in age.
- The minor repeatedly runs into trouble despite rehabilitation efforts.
- It would take too long and br too much work for youth services to rehabilitate the juvenile offender.
Automatic Transfer to Adult Court
There are states that implement an automatic transfer law. This means that a juvenile case goes straight to adult court. This can happen if:
- The offender is older (usually 16 years of age), and
- The case involves a serious and violent crime such as murder or rape.
If a juvenile case is automatically transferred to adult criminal court, the defendant can appeal for a reverse waiver. During a reverse transfer hearing, the defense attorney for the minor will present the case and try to convince the judge to send the case back to juvenile court.
Pros and Cons of Trying a Juvenile in Adult Court
An adult criminal court can provide more constitutional protections to a minor. However, he or she is also likely to receive a harsher sentence to be served at an adult prison. This is why defense attorneys will fight to have the case stay in juvenile court.
Advantages of Trying a Juvenile in Adult Court
- Juvenile cases in an adult court are offered a jury trial. Most juvenile courts do not provide this.
- A jury may be more sympathetic if the person charged is a child.
- Adult courts usually have full dockets and adult correctional facilities are overcrowded. In some situations, the court may be inclined to simply dispose of a juvenile case and hand down a lighter sentence.
Disadvantages of Trying a Juvenile in Adult Court
- Punishments are more severe in adult courts. A juvenile may even be given a life sentence without parole if perceived to be beyond rehabilitation.
- Adult court judges have limited options when it comes to penalizing an offender, such as automatic jail time whereas juvenile court judges may opt to just impose a curfew or require the minor to attend counseling instead of prison.
- Juveniles who are convicted in adult court will have to serve time in an adult correctional facility rather than a juvenile detention center.
- A juvenile court record can be expunged so it does not become available to the public. An adult court conviction will be harder to seal.
A reliable Broward defense attorney will be able to help defend a juvenile criminal case. Consult with a lawyer who has vast experience with the juvenile justice system. Contact the Broward Criminal Law Firm today.
Florida is known to have a strong juvenile court system anchored on its vision to provide safe and nurturing communities that provide for all needs, recognize the strengths, and support the success of youth and their families. Through their services, particularly intervention, prevention, and treatment, they truly are on the first line when assisting troubled youth.
Florida’s Juvenile Court System is founded on the following principles:
- Prevention and education are essential.
- Partnerships with judicial, legislative, and community stakeholders are vital in its success in delivery of services.
- Effective intervention equals public safety for all.
- Children should be accorded a safe and nurturing environment.
- Physical development and mental health are important aspects in both prevention and intervention.
House Bill 411
The Florida Senate recently passed House Bill 411. Florida’s Juvenile Court System 411 bill focuses particularly on student discipline and the duties of relevant stakeholders connected with this. It provides certain guidelines so that schools’ policies in the discipline are in line with those of the juvenile justice system rather than just imposing a black and white zero tolerance approach to petty crimes and minor disturbances in schools.
Its statutes and limitations
Florida’s Juvenile Court System 411 bill has a multitude of statutes that are considered essential in creating sound school discipline policies in schools around Florida. Some of these statutes are:
- K-12 student and parent’s rights – Parents of public school students must receive timely and accurate information on their children’s behavior and academic performance. Proper monitoring and feedback could aid in assessing the need to intervene in some cases. This particular statute also details the right of students to safety while they are in school.
- Duties of stakeholders – This statute details the duties of the school board, the principal, the teachers, and other school personnel as they endeavor to uphold student discipline in their respective schools. It provides specific limitations to their authority as well as red flags if they have been profligate or negligent with their duties in ensuring school safety for all.
- Dropout prevention and academic intervention – There is an established connection between dropping out from school and becoming a juvenile delinquent. This statute remedies the situation by listing possible ways to prevent this from happening through academic programs and other opportunities that would motivate students to stay in school.
- The policy of zero tolerance – For the past few years, the trend has always been zero tolerance for crimes in schools. This particular statute limits this kind of approach. Crimes and other general disturbances should be referred to the juvenile court system to ensure that the consequences imposed would be both legal and appropriate for the case. It also emphasizes that these referrals must be applied to all students equally regardless of disability, race, or economic status.
- Policy on bullying and harassment – Schools are required to adopt a policy that protects students and employees from bullying and harassment. In creating and evaluating this policy, all stakeholders must be involved. This includes students, parents, teachers, administrators, school staff, community representatives, and local law enforcement. The policy must be integrated into the school’s curriculum and be at the forefront of violence prevention efforts.
Florida’s Juvenile Court System 411 bill is just an example of how vigorous the juvenile court system of Florida is. By implementing this bill, schools in Florida are empowered to become a place of safety and security for all young people. If you or your kids run afoul of the law, call Michael Gottlieb. He is a personable, seasoned, and intelligent lawyer who will fight for you.