Broward criminal lawyer William R. Moore says that for the past 44 years, juveniles have been subject to a different set of rules. In Florida and throughout the nation, juveniles accused of committing crimes (known as delinquency cases) are afforded a process that differs from adult criminal cases. In all but the most serious cases, children are tried in a separate courtroom with rules that differ from those applied to adults. Also, the records do not follow them into adulthood. The primary goal of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate delinquent youths so that they will grow into productive adults, not to punish them as the adult system tends to do. The exception to this general rule is where cases are “direct filed” within the adult system, known as charging juveniles as adults. This is rare except in serious felony cases, particularly murders, and is more common generally with older teenagers and those who have significant delinquency history, according to Fort Lauderdale juvenile criminal defense lawyer William R. Moore.
Graham v. Florida was a case decided by the United States Supreme Court in the 2010 term. The Court found that juveniles cannot be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole with the sole exception of homicide. Therefore, a youthful offender who is convicted of rape, burglary, or other felonies cannot receive such a sentence, notes Broward criminal attorney William R. Moore.
The Graham case is in the same vein as the 2005 case Roper v. Simmons, in which the Supreme Court held that youthful defendants cannot be sentenced to death for their crimes. This decision is in keeping with the differing standards for children. After In Re Gault, a 1967 Supreme Court case that led to the widespread establishment of a completely separate system for juveniles, courts began to handle juvenile matters much differently. Gault was a 15-year-old accused of making a harassing phone call to a neighbor, but did not have the opportunity to be notified of the specific charge against him nor to confront his accuser. Nonetheless, the trial court judge ordered that he be held in juvenile detention for as long as was necessary, including until he reached the age of majority (then 21 years). The Supreme Court ruled that juveniles have constitutional rights such as confronting witnesses, being notified of the charges the state has brought against them, and the right to have an attorney.
These rights have been implemented in the juvenile justice system in Florida. Children have the right to be represented by counsel and proceed in hearings very similar to bench trials in adult criminal court. There is no right to a jury trial, so the judge makes determinations of delinquency as well as sentencing.
If you or your child have been charged with a crime, contact William R. Moore, , which has experienced south Florida criminal defense lawyers with offices in Fort Lauderdale-Dade, Broward, and Fort Lauderdale Counties. Criminal Defense Attorneys at our law firm handle all types of criminal defense, including DUI, assault, drug possession, and others.