Understanding The Juvenile Justice System

The potential impact that a juvenile criminal matter can have on your child’s future can be overwhelming and should not be taken lightly. Criminal defense attorney Lee Viacava works tirelessly for families in Southwest Florida who have a child facing criminal charges. When you or a loved one is in trouble with the law, the Lee Viacava Law Firm can help.

In Florida, when minors commit crimes, those crimes are charged and processed through the juvenile justice system most of the time as opposed to the criminal justice system. Anyone under the age of 18 is considered a minor. In the state of Florida, a minor can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, but in the juvenile justice system, this charge is referred to as a delinquent act instead of a criminal offense or crime.

What Is A Status Offense?

In the state of Florida, a status offense is a juvenile offense that would not be a crime if the offender was an adult. Examples of status offenses include:

  • Truancy
  • Violations of curfew
  • Underage smoking or drinking

Typically, status offenses are not processed by the juvenile justice system and are instead handled by a social services agency, unless the minor child is a repeat offender with previous violations. However, that does not mean you should not consult with the Law Firm of Lee Viacava. Please call the office so we can answer your questions and help your family with the process.

Can A Minor Be Charged As An Adult?

In certain circumstances and if the minor child is 14 years of age or older, a criminal prosecutor may request that a minor child be charged as an adult. The crime must be classified as a special felony. Special felonies include:

  • Arson
  • Sexual assault and battery
  • Kidnapping
  • Use of a firearm to commit a crime
  • Manslaughter and murder

In Florida, this can happen without a judge’s approval. A prosecutor may file a “discretionary direct file” which will effectively transfer the case from the juvenile court system to the criminal justice system. The prosecutor will consider the offender’s age, previous record, the severity of the crime and the offender’s role in the crime when they consider a direct file.

Consequences Of Criminal Convictions

In Florida, a juvenile record can have serious consequences that affect a child’s future. For example, a juvenile conviction may prevent a child from joining the military, getting into college or getting hired for a job. Contact us to discuss the various options of sealing or expunging your child’s record. With adult criminal charges, a criminal record can hang over their head for the rest of their life. In either case, it is important to seek the counsel and advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Attorney Lee Viacava is keenly aware of the potential future consequences of a criminal record and advocates aggressively, especially on behalf of his criminal law clients.

Don’t Wait. Call Today.

If your child has been charged with a status offense, a delinquent act or a criminal offense, don’t wait. Call the Lee Viacava Law Firm today at 239-990-2667 or send an email through the online form.