Defending Minors Charged With Criminal Offenses
Being charged with a criminal offense can be one of the most stressful and life changing experiences that a person can have in his or her lifetime. Even minor criminal offenses that might not threaten any jail time can have lasting effects on one’s ability to obtain gainful employment or education. Licensing boards will always take criminal records under consideration when determining the fitness of candidates to the fields of law, medicine, nursing, and others. More serious criminal offenses can result in probation sentences that severely restrict one’s civil rights and ability to enjoy life. And in the worst case scenarios, defendants can face prison time, which is an obviously terrifying experience that most will make hefty sacrifices to avoid. Most adults have difficulty coming to terms with the realities they face in the criminal justice system.
Now, take all that stress that the criminal justice system creates and drop it in the lap of a child or teenager. The prosecutors across the state of Florida notoriously lack empathy for minors accused of committing crimes, and often simply view them as future adult criminals in the making. While minors often end up in the juvenile justice system where the penalties at first seem less serious, there are many significant, systemic problems within the juvenile justice system which make it just as, if not more dangerous than the adult system. If you are a minor or if your minor child has been accused of a crime, you should not hesitate to contact a skilled Sarasota criminal lawyer to build their defense.Defending Minors
Most minors accused of or arrested of a crime will find themselves in the juvenile justice system. Unlike the adult criminal system, the juvenile justice system is ostensibly focused on the rehabilitation of offenders under the age of 18 instead of outright punishment. The procedures followed in juvenile court are vastly different from those in adult court. Where most adult arrestees are permitted to post a bond for their release shortly after their arrest, juveniles are brought before a judge for what is known as a “detention hearing.” At a detention hearing, the juvenile judge can analyze the situation and determine whether the minor will be released to the custody of his or her parent or guardian, or if the juvenile will be detained. A minor can be held in the detention facility for a maximum of 21 days. This time can be traumatizing for a child, and the presence of a skilled Sarasota criminal defense lawyer can sometimes make all the difference during this stressful time period.
Following the arrest and detention of a juvenile, the case will proceed similarly to an adult criminal matter. The state will investigate the case and determine whether or not they will bring formal charges against the minor. If that happens, the defense can negotiate a plea agreement or can proceed to a trial. Unlike adult criminal matters, juveniles are not entitled to a jury trial and must proceed to a trial before the judge. This can have many advantages and pitfalls, but the system makes juvenile trials far more common and effective than adult criminal trials. No one should attempt to proceed to a trial or to negotiate plea agreements without the consultation of a dedicated Sarasota criminal lawyer.
In some circumstances, and for the prosecution of certain serious criminal offenses, the State can decide to “direct file” the offense to adult court. Prosecutors can only direct file cases for children over the age of 13. Unfortunately, only the prosecutor has the discretion to bring charges against a child as an adult. If your child is being investigated for a crime, it is critical that you speak to an attorney who can quickly get involved and potentially prevent charges or severely mitigate the severity of the charges.Speak to our Lawyers Today
The attorneys at Hanlon Law have the skills and compassion to help your child throughout the difficult process of facing criminal charges. Call us for a consultation today at 941.462.1789.