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Crimes Committed by Teens

boywall-150x150In criminal law, a juvenile offender is a person under a certain age who has been charged with a criminal act. Different jurisdictions have varying standards on what age a person must be in order to be tried as a juvenile. Generally, a person under the age of 17 or 18 is considered a juvenile offender. For more serious offenses, like murder or rape, a juvenile may be removed from the juvenile justice system and tried as an adult, depending on the circumstances.

Juvenile court is a court that handles cases involving individuals who are under the legal age of adulthood. Juvenile court handles delinquency cases, which are those in which a juvenile is accused of some type of crime. In addition, this type of court also handles child protection matters, which are also referred to as dependency cases.

Differences Between Juvenile & Adult Courts

Although adult and juvenile courts vary from state to state, there are still some important factors that distinguish the two court systems. For instance, juvenile court is for anyone under the age of 18 years old; however, adult court is for anyone over 18 years old — with an exception. A child accused of serious crimes such as murder can be bound over or transferred to adult court.

The criminal justice systems for adults and juveniles are significantly different and vary from state to state. In general, the differences are:

Juveniles are not prosecuted for committing crimes, but rather delinquent acts.  When the delinquent acts are very serious, they may be considered crimes and the juvenile may be tried in the adult system.

Juveniles don’t have a right to a public trial by jury.  For a juvenile charged with a crime, the trial portion of the case involves a judge hearing evidence and ruling on whether or not the minor is delinquent.  This is called an adjudication hearing.

Once the juvenile has been deemed delinquent, the court will determine what action should be taken.  This stage differs from the adult system in the purpose of the action.  In the adult system, the goal is to punish.  In the juvenile system, on the other hand, the goal is to rehabilitate and serve the minor’s best interest.

Juvenile courts are often more informal than those for adults.  For example, rules about the admissibility of evidence may be more lenient.

One of the main differences between the juvenile and adult justice systems lies in their overall aim.  For the juvenile justice system, the main aim is to rehabilitate and reform the juvenile offender so that they can resume functioning normally in society.

Similarities Between Juvenile & Adult Courts

The similarities do exist and mainly relate to individual rights:

  • The right to an attorney
  • The right to confront and cross-examine witnesses
  • The privilege against self-incrimination
  • The right to notice of the charges
  • The prosecution must provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt before a person can be convicted

Juvenile Delinquency Process in West Palm Beach

If an individual who is under the age of 18 is charged with a crime, it is classified as juvenile delinquency. Crimes committed by juveniles are usually processed by the juvenile assessment center in the county the crime was committed in. After the assessment, the juvenile will be released to a parent or guardian and either have his or her charges forwarded to the court, or be referred to a juvenile diversion program. In cases involving serious offenses or a repeat offender, the juvenile may be taken to a Juvenile Detention Center to be detained until his or her first court hearing.

During the assessment, a Juvenile Probation Officer will interview the offender along with their family, in an attempt to develop a satisfactory solution to address the offense. The probation officer will then offer a recommendation to the state attorney on what legal action should be taken. This recommendation usually involves the offender participating in a juvenile diversion program, or being prosecuted as a youth for his or her crime. The state attorney has the power to make the final decision, and in some cases, the juvenile can even stand trial as an adult.

Sentencing for Juveniles in Florida

In cases involving adults, the main purpose of the prosecution is to punish the offender for the commission of the crime. For cases involving juveniles, the focus is different. The prosecution is focused on rehabilitating the offender. Therefore, penalties juveniles face are different than the criminal penalties faced by adults. Common penalties for juveniles include probation, incarceration in a juvenile detention center, or community control.

In cases where the juvenile is a first time offender and has been charged with a misdemeanor, he or she can face a civil litigation rather than probation or incarceration. The common penalties associated with civil litigation include:

  • Monitoring of progress in school
  • Apologizing to victims in writing
  • Restitution payments
  • Submitting to regular drug tests
  • Counseling
  • Community Service
  • Drug or alcohol rehabilitation programs

Every county in Florida is required to have a civil citation program in place. This program was designed to prevent juveniles from becoming repeat offenders by keeping them from behind bars, and rehabilitating them.

Juvenile Offense Attorney in West Palm Beach

If your child has been arrested for a crime in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Greenacres, Jupiter, Lake Worth, Palm Beach Gardens, Riviera Beach, Royal Palm Beach, Wellington, or anywhere else in the Palm Beach County area, contact Andrew D. Stine, P.A.. Andrew Stine is a devoted defense attorney who will work hard to make sure you and your child are aware of your legal options, and he will assistant you in choosing the one that is best suited for the situation.

To find out more about what Andrew D. Stine, P.A. can do for your child, call 561.880.4300 today and schedule your free consultation.

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