When crimes are committed by someone under the age of 18, these crimes are approached, and punished very differently than what is common for adult offenders. Because of immaturity, poor judgment, bad parenting or lack of supervision, young people often make mistakes they come to regret as they get older.
Florida state law recognizes these transitional periods and the mistakes that often accompany them, and tries to balance accountability with temperance and understanding where offense that rise to the level of criminal are concerned with people under the age of 18.
Adults are expected to hold themselves accountable for their actions and when an adult commits a crime, the purpose of their punishment is to deter repeat offenses, make an example of them to others, and to prevent dangerous individuals from hurting other people. It is assumed that people older than 18 have achieved the sufficient maturity needed to learn how to live within the boundaries of orderly society.
For people under 18 years of age, the assumption is that these youthful offenders have not yet developed the judgment needed to understand the consequences of their actions over time. Therefore, juvenile sanctions are based on the premise that juvenile defendants can be rehabilitated more readily and be more easily steered away from a lifetime of legal infractions using education and counseling as opposed to conviction and incarceration. This is important, because it has been shown that youth offenders are more likely to become adult criminal offenders than youth who are not convicted of a crime.
Depending on the seriousness of the offense, every effort will be made to hand down juvenile sentences that are less harsh, more efforts are made to find avenues of rehabilitation that are less likely to follow them through the course of their lives.
To this end, juvenile records are sealed after the person reaches the age of 18 in order to avoid the stigma of a criminal record.
This means finding ways to hold youthful offenders accountable for their antisocial actions but tempering the punishment and allowing these young people the chance to move forward through their lives without the stain of youthful indiscretions compromising their future options.
Options that may be used as alternatives to harsher punitive measures include:
When efforts to mitigate punitive efforts against youthful offenders is considered, there is a level of seriousness to the crimes that these offenses must not rise to in order to be tried in Juvenile Court. These crimes include:
The severity of these crimes precludes offenders from being tried in juvenile court, and as such, these defendants will be tried as adults.
Children show poor judgment, make rash decisions and are given to making mistakes. If your child has been charged with a juvenile crime, let Robert Zlatkin, Tampa criminal defense attorney, help defend them against unfounded allegations and if necessary, prevent a moment of indiscretion from having outsized consequences on the rest of their lives.
Call Robert Zlatkin today.