Two Teens Arrested for Burglary of 100 Cars. Are Juvenile Proceedings a Possibility?
Posted on November 10, 2016 10:00 AM EST
Juvenile cases can be extremely challenging. When does the law allow for young defendants to be tried as an adult? When should they be tried as a minor?
In South Florida, two teenagers, one age 17, and another age 18, were caught in the act of burglary. They were robbing a car. A BSO Officer discovered a 12-gauge shotgun as well as the drum of an AK-47, drugs, and stolen cash in the vehicle and/or on their persons. After their arrests, it was discovered that over 100 car burglaries may be connected to these two teenagers. Help from a Miami burglary defense attorney
could get these two teenagers the best results for these challenging crimes – but what process are these two teens facing when they are arrested in Florida?
A Minor May Be Prosecuted as a Juvenile
This case provides a great example of how the law may treat minors versus adults. The 17-year-old was charged with 1 count of Grand Theft of a Firearm. The 18-year-old was charged with 23 counts, including Grand Theft of a Firearm, Criminal Mischief, Burglary, Theft, and Possession of Cannabis. Both may be facing more charges.
We can first address the 17-year-old. The juvenile will be released to his parents within 24 hours. Then, he will have to face the count of Grand Theft of a Firearm. Florida Statute 985 allows for defendants to be prosecuted as a juvenile if they are under the age of 18 at the time of the offense. While juveniles are still prosecuted in circuit court, they are subjected to much different rules and will receive far less in the form of punishment in this jurisdiction.
Another benefit to being prosecuted in juvenile court is that once the case is closed, public access to juvenile records is much more restrictive than for adults. If the 17-year-old is in fact prosecuted as a juvenile, which is very likely as he was only arrested for one count, he will probably be required to take a theft course, as well as perform community service hours. If the juvenile completes these tasks, the case will probably be dismissed.
Is It Possible to Try the Minor as an Adult?
Yes, it is. The Broward State Attorney's Office is very unreasonable and could choose to bind over the juvenile as an adult and consolidate his case with that of the 18-year-old. State Attorney's Offices have broad discretion in deciding whether to bind over a juvenile. In Miami, serious offenses like armed robbery, sexual battery, and carjacking will be bound over to adult court. An experienced Miami criminal lawyer who is involved in the process in the early stages of a case can usually prevent a bind over to adult court as long as the offense is not too serious.
What Will Happen to the 18-Year-Old?
The 18-year-old will have to post a bond on all the charges listed in the arrest affidavit. He should be released within 24 hours as well. The 18-year-old is probably facing jail or prison time due to the number of offenses. While each offense standing alone will not subject the defendant to a mandatory prison sentence, the large number of counts will probably call for a prison sentence based on the Florida Sentencing Guidelines.
How Can an Experienced Criminal Lawyer Defend Both Teenagers Against These Charges?
As stated earlier, our attorneys would make our best efforts to have the 17-year-old prosecuted in juvenile court, where he would face classes and community service.
The 18-year-old is facing far harsher penalties, and hopefully lack of prior criminal record would allow us to seek perhaps a diversion or probationary plea. Of course, before resolving the case, our attorneys would have to review the discovery to determine if a motion to suppress statements or evidence is viable.
These two teenagers are in quite a bit of trouble. Receiving an eventual dismissal in the juvenile's case would be a victory, while keep the 18-year-old out of jail or prison would be a win.
Defending Juveniles and Adult Teenagers in Florida Courts
We have had several young defendants charged with similar and far more serious offenses. Teens often go on crimes sprees, whether they be thefts or robberies. We had a client not too long get arrested on multiple armed robbery counts. He successfully completed boot camp through plea negotiations. He is now working a full-time job and has not had any further contact with the criminal justice system.
A Note About Crime and Young People
Young offenders are often hanging with the wrong people or crowds. Peer pressure and drugs often play a large role. These kids should be in school or working so they don't have the time to get into trouble.
If you or a loved one does get in trouble or investigated by the police, it's important that you never speak to the police. Always invoke your Miranda rights to remain silent. Never consent to searches of cars or homes. It only makes it easier for the police and the prosecutors. For help with a juvenile case or arrest in Florida, contact Donet, McMillan & Trontz at (305) 444-0030.