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When Can a Minor Be Charged as an Adult in Florida?

Posted on Thursday, February 28th, 2019 at 12:50 pm    

Juveniles Tried as Adults in Florida Criminal Cases

Juveniles are typically charged & tried as an adult when the crime is severe enough, examples include: robbery with a deadly weapon, homicide, rape, etc. Because Florida doesn’t establish a minimum age requirement a minor as young as 12 can be entered into the adult court system.

Florida leads the country in charging minors as adults. The factors which determine whether your child will face the criminal justice system include his/her age, past criminal history, the seriousness of the offense, and other relevant factors.

While the juvenile justice system is designed to rehabilitate minors who could correct their behavior and avoid becoming a criminal in the future, the criminal justice system is meant to punish criminals. Keep in mind, the courts favor sending minors to juvenile court, unless the alleged crime is especially heinous in nature.

The following are the ways a juvenile’s case may be transferred to adult court:

  • Direct file – The “direct file” statute is responsible for 98 percent of all children in Florida ending up in the criminal justice system. This rule enables prosecutors to refer to a minor’s case from juvenile court to adult court without obtaining a judge’s or jury’s approval. There are two types of direct file: discretionary and mandatory. The former allows prosecutors to file charges for specific felonies against a child who is 14 years of age or older, while the latter relates to certain offenses a child 16 years old or older commits. However, there is no minimum age for capital offenses which are punishable by life imprisonment or death.
  • Waiver – There are three types of waivers: involuntary discretionary, involuntary mandatory, and voluntary. An involuntary discretionary waiver occurs when the prosecutor may file a motion, asking the court to transfer a child’s case to adult court. An involuntary mandatory waver allows a prosecutor to request a transfer a child’s case to adult court since the minor is charged with a second or another violent crime and was previously obtained a delinquent adjudication. A voluntary waiver means a child requests moving his/her trial to adult court.
  • Indictment – If a minor—no matter what age—is charged with a crime which carries a death or life imprisonment sentence, the State can seek a grand jury indictment.

Once a prosecutor decides to try a minor in adult court, the child’s rights will be waived during the trial process. Minors in the criminal justice system will face the same penalties as adults.

Waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of your phone ringing and finding out your child has been arrested is a parent’s worst nightmare. After attempting to figure out what your son or daughter did to end up behind bars, your next thought might be whether he or she can be charged as an adult.

If your child has been arrested in Pensacola, contact our experienced criminal defense attorney at the Morris Firm today and let our firm protect your child’s rights and future.

Can Social Media Be Used as Evidence in a Criminal Case?

Posted on Wednesday, February 27th, 2019 at 12:50 pm    

From sharing our thoughts and everyday life to keeping up with family, friends, and even current events, social media has become a significant part of our daily lives. We use platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to post various aspects about ourselves—no matter how personal they may be.

Unfortunately, if you end up getting arrested and charged with a criminal offense, your social media activity can and will be used as evidence against you in criminal court. In fact, most—if not all—police departments consider social media as an invaluable tool in criminal investigations.

For example, if you were arrested for assault and law enforcement encounters several posts which reveal you made threats to the alleged victim and/or bragged about the incident in question, this could be used as evidence to prove you were the aggressor of the physical altercation. If you post photos or videos of yourself drinking while driving a vehicle, or if a friend tags you in a photo or a video, the police can use these posts against you. Even check-ins can pinpoint suspects at the exact location the crime had occurred.

Although you may believe your customized privacy settings prevent third parties from viewing your social media profiles, platforms are now working with law enforcement more and more to crack down on crime, giving them access to user’s social media accounts if they could present a warrant. In addition, criminal investigators can gather your personal information through your contacts, who have more lenient privacy settings.

The following are several social media tips to consider if you have been arrested for a criminal offense:

  • Avoid social media – It is wise to refrain from using social media until your case has been resolved. While you may often voice your angst and frustrations on social media, doing so could land you in further legal trouble or complicate your defense.
  • Do not delete your accounts – Since your social media activity can be used as evidence against you, some people just delete all their accounts altogether. However, this type of action can be viewed as destroying or attempting to destroy evidence, which can result in additional charges on top of your original offense.
  • Do not discuss your case – While it may be tempting to reach out to friends and family through social media accounts, the only person you should be discussing your case with is your attorney. But you should tell your friends to avoid tagging you in any posts until your case is over.

If you have been arrested for a crime in Florida, our Pensacola criminal defense attorney at the Morris Law Firm can help you obtain the most favorable results in your case. We can investigate your case, create a strong defense strategy, and protect your rights and freedom throughout the criminal justice process.

For more information, contact us and schedule a consultation today.