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When Can A Minor Be Charged As An Adult In Fort Lauderdale?

The Sun-Sentinel recently reported a story on an armed home invasion in Pompano Beach, and one of the perpetrators of the crime is drawing attention for his age. The Broward County State’s Attorney’s Office has charged a 14-year-old boy as an adult for his role in the home invasion and burglary while carrying a firearm. It’s not unusual for prosecutors to try a minor in adult court as opposed to juvenile court for his or her crimes. However, Florida law on criminal procedure and juvenile justice only allows a minor to be tried as an adult under certain circumstances. In a case involving burglary in Broward County, there are waiver proceedings involved when a criminal defendant is under the age of 18.

Florida Law on Trying Minors as Adults

A minor will typically be charged in juvenile court for committing certain crimes, but the law allows for a waiver of juvenile court jurisdiction in some cases.

  • Involuntary Mandatory Waiver: Under certain circumstances, a juvenile court judge is required to transfer a minor’s case to adult criminal court. A child that’s 14 years or older will be charged as an adult if he or she has a prior history of a felony crime involving homicide, sexual crimes, or certain violent crimes involving firearms, including home invasion burglary. In a mandatory waiver case, the minor will automatically be transferred to adult court upon the request of the state attorney.
  • Involuntary Discretionary Waiver: The prosecutor in a criminal case may file a motion with the juvenile court, requesting that the judge transfer the child to adult court for criminal prosecution. The motion only applies when the defendant is 14 years of age or older at the time the crime was committed, and the judge uses legal discretion when deciding whether to grant the request.

Court Hearing on Trying a Minor as an Adult

In a situation involving a discretionary waiver, the prosecutor’s motion requesting transfer from juvenile court must set out the reasons why the case should proceed in an adult court. The juvenile court will conduct a hearing on the transfer request to determine whether it’s appropriate for the child to be tried as an adult. Some of the factors that the judge must consider under Florida law include:

  • The severity of the crime and whether the public interest is best served by trying the minor as an adult;
  • Whether the crime was committed in a manner that is aggressive, violent or premeditated;
  • The sophistication and maturity level of the defendant; and
  • The minor’s prior criminal history, such as multiple contacts with law enforcement or corrections agencies, previous court-ordered probation or delinquencies, or previous incarceration.

Let Us Assist You with Your Case

If you or a loved one is charged with a crime as a minor, an experienced defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik can advocate on your behalf and guide you through the criminal justice system. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.

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