When Is a Juvenile Tried as an Adult in Florida?
By Jonathan Blecher on May 29, 2019
“What does it mean for a juvenile to be tried as an adult?” It means the juvenile is charged or otherwise prosecuted as an adult. In other words, the juvenile is charged as if he or she were a legal adult. If a juvenile is prosecuted as an adult in Florida, he or she will face the same penalties as an adult would if they were charged with the same crime.
For criminal justice purposes, a “juvenile” is a minor, someone who is under the age of 18. Normally, minors are processed through the juvenile court system, but in some cases, they can be prosecuted as an adult.
When Juveniles Are Charged as Adults
In Florida, whenever a juvenile is charged with a felony offense, he or she faces the possibility of an adult prosecution. Meaning, the juvenile’s case can be transferred to the adult criminal division. If the minor pleads guilty, or if they are convicted in adult court, they will be sentenced the same as an adult; the adult court will not be lenient with them because of their age. Also, once a juvenile is sentenced in adult court, he or she will forever be prosecuted in adult court.
There are three ways for a juvenile’s case to be transferred to adult court: 1) an indictment, 2) a waiver, and 3) a direct file. Indictments usually apply to juvenile offenders under the age of 14 who committed a serious crime, such as murder, which is punishable by life in prison or the death penalty.
With a waiver, the prosecutor asks the juvenile court judge to transfer a case to adult court as long as the child is 14 or older. Direct files can be mandatory or discretionary and they involve the prosecutor making a direct transfer to adult court. While “discretionary direct files are self-explanatory,” mandatory direct files are those where state law says transferring certain juvenile cases to adult court is mandatory.
“Mandatory direct files stem from a state law requiring that for certain crimes a child 16 years and older be tried as an adult. The law allows no exception,” according to the Miami Dade Public Offender.
If your son or daughter is facing criminal charges in Miami, contact my firm at once to protect their legal rights.