Juvenile crimes and adult penalties: how does the court decide?

On Behalf of | Oct 19, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

The Florida justice system can be complex for everyone, but that is especially true when a juvenile has been arrested. Depending on the crime itself and the juvenile’s history, the court can decide to adjudicate the matter in the context of consequences specifically tailored to young offenders.

In some instances, however, the crime is severe enough or there is a history of violations that the court will need to decide if adult disposition is appropriate. Parents, guardians and the juvenile who was arrested must be aware of what the law says under these circumstances.

What does the court consider with juvenile vs. adult sanctions?

The court will weigh various factors when deciding on juvenile or adult sanctions. The severity of the act is key. If the juvenile is deemed a danger to the community because of their behavior and the community is assessed as being better protected if the juvenile is treated as an adult, that is what the court will do. If the juvenile is generally not aggressive, violent, and does not behave in a premeditated or willful way, the court may be inclined to lean toward juvenile sanctions.

There is a difference between crimes against property or against persons. If the juvenile was shoplifting, that is not the same as robbing someone at knifepoint with the implied threat of harm if the victim does not comply. If people are injured in the act, there is a greater chance that the adult sanctions will hold sway.

Some juveniles are more mature than others. If it is a very young offender and they lack the sophistication to understand what they are doing and the consequences of it, they could be better off with juvenile sanctions. An older teen with a history of legal violations and basic comprehension of their acts and how they are harmful might face adult sanctions. Of course, the juvenile’s history will be considered with state agencies like the Department of Corrections, the Department of Juvenile Justice and others becoming involved.

Parents and juveniles should know the value of a strong defense

In short, the court must weigh the benefit of adult penalties compared with juvenile penalties. Juvenile penalties tend to be more treatment oriented and prefer intervention to prevent repeating of the behavior. For parents and juveniles who are dealing with these types of legal questions after an arrest, it is imperative to have professional guidance to try and avoid the worst ramifications. Calling for experienced help with all areas of criminal defense can be crucial to dealing with the case.