If your child is under the age of 18 and charged with a crime, it can be a parent’s worst nightmare. What will happen to them? Will they have a lifelong criminal record that impacts their future? Will they be charged as an adult?
When your child has gotten into trouble with the law, the first thing a worried parent should do is contact a Tampa juvenile defense attorney who will protect that child’s rights and fight to prevent a mistake from limiting their education and employment prospects. At Sulte Law Firm, our juvenile defense attorney knows what you’re going through and will provide experienced and compassionate representation.
The Florida Juvenile Justice System Explained
There are two separate and distinct legal services in Florida- one for adults and the other for juveniles. When young people under the age of 18 are charged with a crime, their case is usually handled by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, which is focused on rehabilitation instead of punishment.
In Florida, the most common offenses committed by juveniles involve underage drinking, drugs, violence, and probation violations. They include (but are not limited to):
- Drug use, possession, and sales
- Underage drinking and drunk driving
- Petty theft
- Auto theft
- Property crimes such as vandalism and destruction of public property
Once arrested, your son or daughter will generally have a different experience than an adult offender would, as the state juvenile justice system emphasizes intervention and support. Depending on the circumstances, your child may be referred to a diversion program designed to stop delinquent behavior, or they may undergo a Detention Risk Assessment Instrument to determine whether they should be placed in a detention center or stay at home with you until their court date arrives.
Every juvenile offender’s case is different, so while one young person may be recommended for a diversion program, the other may be detained due to the seriousness of the crime and/or their criminal record. In either case, a Tampa criminal defense lawyer who works with young offenders will ensure that their rights are protected and they have a fair outcome in their case.
Call a Tampa Juvenile Defense Attorney Immediately!
When you receive a call that your child has been picked up by the police, your first priority is going to be getting them back home. Your next concern will be helping them recover from their mistake, emotionally and legally. You can do this by ensuring that they have caring and competent legal counsel.
Ryan Sulte is an experienced Tampa juvenile defense attorney who represents young people caught up in the Florida juvenile justice system. Sometimes children and teenagers fall into the wrong crowd and fail to think before they show off in front of friends. His goal is to prevent otherwise good kids from having their entire lives affected by a mistake.
When are Minors Tried as Adults in Florida?
When certain felonies are committed, the law in Florida states that juvenile offenders must be charged as adults. These offenses tend to be serious violent crimes, such as murder or aggravated assault, or sexually motivated, such as rape. Your child could also be charged as an adult if:
They were previously tried as an adult
They have a long criminal history in the juvenile court system and failed to respond
If tried as an adult, your child may be subjected to the same penalties, which can be devastating. Call a Tampa juvenile defense attorney immediately if it looks like they are facing an adult court process for their alleged offense.
What if the Police Question Your Child Without Your Permission?
If the police questioned your child without following proper protocols (e.g., reading their Miranda rights) or letting them call you or another adult, there may be legal challenges to any incriminating statements that they may have made. While any statement that the child made voluntarily can be used against them in court proceedings, the police cannot force them to answer questions or incriminate themselves against their will.
Advise your juvenile defense attorney what happened, so that they can review your child’s case and determine whether law enforcement behaved inappropriately.
How Can a Tampa Juvenile Defense Attorney Help?
When a young person has been charged with committing a crime, especially a crime that could get them charged as an adult, a Tampa juvenile defense lawyer will present their case in the best possible light and negotiate for a lesser punishment or even a dismissal of the charges.
The juvenile defense attorney at Sulte Law Firm, our goal will be to get your child’s case dismissed or resolved informally, outside of court. If their case does go to court, we will present a strong and competent defense and strive to prevent acts of poor judgment from holding them back for years to come.