Our Tampa juvenile defense lawyers are prepared to represent your child in juvenile court. If your child has been arrested, contact the experienced juvenile attorneys at our Tampa office for your free consultation. Your child’s future can be permanently marred by a conviction, especially if he or she is tried as an adult – a practice that is becoming extremely common in Florida.
Tampa Juvenile Delinquency
When a child is arrested in Florida, he or she will face juvenile delinquency proceedings. Delinquency is similar to criminal charges for an adult. For example, if a 20-year-old is arrested for robbery, he will be charged in a regular criminal court and the trial will be open to the public. If his 14-year-old sister is arrested for robbery, she will usually face delinquency charges in juvenile court, which are closed to the public. Nearly 90,000 young people are prosecuted in juvenile court each year, and nearly half are for serious felonies.
Although the justice system differs for children, the consequences can be severe. Your child could face prison time if he is convicted as an adult, spend years in a juvenile detention facility, mandatory counseling, and other penalties. Delinquency can interfere with your child’s familial and social relationships and damage his academic performance if he spends time away from his regular school.
Trying Juveniles as Adults
Increasingly, prosecutors are pushing to try juvenile offenders as adults. In the past four years, the number of juveniles who were transferred to adult criminal court has gone up 45 percent, according to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. Charging a juvenile as an adult can result in punishment very similar to that an adult would receive. A juvenile could be sentenced to prison for years if he is convicted of an adult offense.
Additionally, certain felonies have permanent consequences, even if the juvenile is not tried as an adult. For instance, an adjudication of delinquency for a juvenile felony in juvenile court will deprive the minor of the right to possess a firearm for the rest of his life. If he is caught with a gun, even many years later as an adult, he may face the felony charge of felon in possession of a firearm.
Who Are Juvenile Offenders?
Traditionally, the juvenile justice system in the state of Florida has handled far more referrals for delinquent boys than girls. Over the past few years, the numbers have begun to shift. Fewer boys are facing charges, while more and more girls are facing delinquency charges. Now, girls make up just over 30 percent of the total number of youths charged.
Drug crimes are among the most common charges. Last year, about 10 percent of juveniles arrested faced marijuana-related charges. However, violent crimes such as aggravated assault and battery, as well as burglary, remain even more common.
Tampa Juvenile Delinquency Lawyers
If your child has been charged in a juvenile court or is being transferred to adult criminal court, contact our office immediately. We provide aggressive representation with your child’s best interests and his future in mind.
Contact us as soon as possible for your free consultation.