A Primer on Juvenile Criminal Cases

Florida criminal courts handle juveniles in a separate criminal division. A juvenile is under eighteen years old. The prosecutor can charge a juvenile in adult court and seek adult sanctions: this is referred to as a “direct file” case. The decision is entirely up to the State Attorney for the district; Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami-Dade are all independent criminal jurisdictions, that means the prosecutor is elected and each prosecutor (State Attorney) sets policy for his district’s criminal courts. Fort Lauderdale (Broward County), West Palm Beach and Miami (Miami-Dade County) are all different and juveniles get treated differently, it is a matter of policy, not law. Florida criminal laws also permit judges to overrule the decision to “direct file” on a juvenile: that is to seek adult sanctions. Florida criminal laws (Section 958), the “Youthful Offender Statute” permits a Florida criminal court judge to impose a maximum six year sentence (any combination of sanctions from probation to incarceration) on a juvenile, but, the sentence must be imposed before their twenty-first birthday. If you, or a family member, has been arrested in South Florida, contact criminal defense lawyer Ralph Behr for a free consultation