Crimes committed by children under the age of 18 are legally referred to as juvenile delinquents, juvenile offenders, youthful offenders or delinquent minors. Juvenile proceedings differ state to state and can get complicated. America’s youth make mistakes on a regular basis. As they grow up, they are taught the difference between right and wrong as well as the rules and laws of society. Youthful ignorance and misconceptions can lead young people in the wrong direction where they will ultimately make mistakes, and the law must therefore recognize that adults and children are inherently different and must therefore be treated accordingly when criminal proceedings are involved.
When adults are prosecuted and face consequences for crimes that they have committed, the purpose of the sanctions placed upon them is to negatively reinforce illegal behavior to discourage repeat offenses, and to deter others from doing the same. Emphasis is placed upon punishment and deterrence in adult court because adult offenders have lived long enough to learn to respect the law to a point where not following it is simply inexcusable. For juveniles, the same circumstances do not apply and they are treated differently during criminal proceedings. Juvenile sanctions are aimed at rehabilitation and education so that juvenile delinquents do not become adult offenders and begin a life of crime. Juveniles who are convicted of crimes are more likely offend repeatedly throughout adult life than those who are not convicted of any crime. Depending on the offense, juvenile sentences are typically less severe, they are offered opportunities to be diverted from the justice system and their records are usually sealed to prevent them from being labeled as criminals and therefore decreasing their likelihood of repeat offenses. Some of the most common offenses committed by juveniles include:
Juvenile diversion programs are used by the state of Florida as a means of giving youthful offenders a second chance at life by sealing their records so that previous criminal infractions do not inhibit their personal and professional growth and career aspirations. Oftentimes youthful offenders will be given a requirement to complete hours of community service, educational seminars, courses on drugs and alcohol, or write letters of apology to those affected by their crime. Statistics have shown that children who have criminal offenses on their records are more likely to commit crimes as adults, so in response, the State designed programs that will accomplish the object of educating and diverting Florida’s youth from repeat offenses without permanently tarnishing their records and destroying their future. According to sociologists at the International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology, there is strong support for the efficacy of youth diversion programs. Those placed in such programs are less likely to reoffend than their processed counterparts. It is imperative that you retain an attorney who knows to file for a first-time diversion program when your child is charged with a crime in South Florida.
Juvenile court is always better for youthful offenders due to the decreased severity of the sentences, however some crimes are not worthy of being tried in juvenile court due to their severity. Rape, murder, aggravated battery and aggravated burglary are among the offenses for which a judge will likely deny a motion to proceed in juvenile court. The minimum age for adult court proceedings varies from state to state, in some the minimum age is as high as 16, in others it can be as low as 12.
If your child was recently charged with a crime, don’t leave their future in the hands of our country’s broken justice system. Call The Ansara Law Firm immediately to protect your child from harsh sentences and potentially life-ruining consequences. Every child exhibits reckless or impulsive behavior throughout their lives, and these are experiences that we learn from, they do not define us. Juvenile delinquents need to learn that their actions have consequences, and the value of the law as it applies to our society. Our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys have handled numerous cases in which the defendant was a juvenile, achieving the most mutually amicable results possible, where the court taught the child a lesson without ruining their life with a juvenile criminal record.
If you, your child, or the child of someone you know was recently charged with a crime, call our lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm at (954) 761-4011 immediately for a free consultation to protect the child from facing the full brunt of Florida’s justice system.