Can a Juvenile Offender Go to Prison?

If their children are facing criminal charges, many parents fear their kids will end up in prison, potentially affecting the course of the rest of their lives. However, under many circumstances, juveniles will either be sentenced to probation or to county jail, the Department Probation and Restitution Center, or the Community Residential Facility.

The entire justice system regarding juvenile offenses is designed to rehabilitate kids. The court believes children are more likely to be able to change for the better and any crime committed in their youth can be left behind them with time. This is why the courts tend to be more lenient in their sentencing of children under the age of 18.

In Florida, the court also has an alternative sentencing scheme for Youthful Offenders under the age of 21. A child is eligible to be considered a Youthful Offender if he or she meets the following criteria:

  • Must be younger than 21 years of age on the day of the sentencing
  • Must be found guilty of, or pleaded no contest or guilty to, any non-capital or non-life felony crime
  • Had no previous sentences as a youthful offender

If the court determines the person qualifies as a Youthful Offender and agrees to exercise the discretion to impose a Youthful Offender sentence, the court can enforce any of the following punishments if they don’t violate the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment required under the adult Criminal Punishment Code:

  • Up to 6 years of probation or community control
  • Up to 365 days of incarceration as a condition of probation or community control
  • A split sentence of prison and probation where the term doesn’t last more than 4 years
  • Up to 6 years in prison

While prison is possible, it is typically certain types of felony crimes that will lead a juvenile’s charges to be filed in adult court. The more severe the crime, the more severe the penalty. For example, grand theft auto, robbery, aggravated battery, and possession of a weapon on school grounds could all be cause for a transfer of the case to adult court. Even children as young as 14 or 15 years of age can be sentenced to prison if the charge is serious enough.

If you’re concerned about your child’s case specifically, you should discuss the circumstances of the arrest with a skilled Florida criminal defense attorney. Our lawyers at Musca Law can offer you more than 150 years of combined legal experience. We are dedicated to defending the rights and freedom of our clients and can offer you advice regarding your child’s situation. Let us see what we can do for you in a free case consultation.

Contact us at (888) 497-0216 or fill out our online form to schedule your free case review today.

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