As children, one of the best ways we learn is by making a mistake. You make the mistake of touching a hot stove and burning your hand and then you never do it again. Or you make the mistake of sneaking out of the house, your parents punish you and you decide that the punishment was way worse than the fun of breaking curfew. Live and learn. The Florida criminal justice system takes a similar approach for most juveniles when they break the law. There is a belief that children have the ability to learn from their mistakes and ultimately outgrow this rebellious phase. When it comes to adults, there is the belief that the time for trial and error is over and that as adults, the law breaker should know better.
With that philosophy in mind, Florida courts treat juvenile law breakers differently than they treat adults. One of the biggest differences has to do with privacy. Unlike criminal records, juvenile records are kept private. That being said, there are instances in which the record can be accessed, including future criminal trials.
Common Florida juvenile crimes include:
- Underage drinking
- Driving under the influence
- Reckless driving
- Drug crimes
Seventeen is the cut off age in Florida delineating between childhood and adulthood. That being said, just because you are under the age of seventeen does not mean that the judge in your case cannot decide to charge you as an adult. The age of the individual, the crime committed and the maturity of the individual are the three biggest factors that a judge will consider when moving a case from juvenile court to adult court.
Say your child was accused of underage drinking when he or she was sixteen and they have now reached adulthood. Although the crime and punishment may be in the past, this criminal mark is still something that should be dealt with. In many instances, Florida juvenile crime can be expunged from an individual’s criminal record. When expungement is an option, it is an option juveniles and adults should always take. It essentially removes the crime from your record so that it cannot affect other aspects of your life. The general requirements to expunge your record in Florida are:
- You must not have had a record sealed or expunged before
- You must not be under any form of court supervision (i.e. probation)
- You must not have received a withhold of adjudication
- You must not have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony
As a parent, we know how concerned you must be when you hear that your child has been charged with a crime of any type. At Finebloom & Haenel P.A. we have worked on many juvenile cases, many of which we have been able to reduce or drop the charges. If your child has recently been charged with a crime in Florida, give us a call today to discuss your case. We look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks to my friend Terry Gaffney for assisting me with this post.