In recent years, Florida’s juvenile justice system has been under intense scrutiny. The Sunshine State leads the nation in charging children as adults for criminal offenses. In fact, out of all 50 states, Florida tops the list for sending children to juvenile prison with hardened adult criminals.
Multiple reports show that a staggering 98 percent of children placed in the adult criminal justice system land there due to the state’s “direct file” statute. This statute gives prosecutors the option to move a case directly from the juvenile system to the adult system without a single hearing or a judge’s okay.
Many human rights experts and criminal justice reformers agree that Florida is at a crossroads when it comes to juvenile justice. In fact, many believe juveniles in Florida more often than not are subject to dire injustice. A Melbourne Juvenile criminal defense lawyer can help your child.
Shocking Juvenile Statistics
The same reports highlighting how often children are tried as adults in Florida also point out that prosecutors go to great lengths to coerce kids into admitting guilt. These defendants will often plead guilty even when they don’t understand the consequences of an admission in a criminal case.
Furthermore, many of them lack the developmental ability to fully grasp the implications of what is happening to them. Scientific data shows how the juvenile brain – which is still growing through the teen years – simply can’t understand what is at stake in a criminal case.
Florida has been called “the worst state in the country to be a child in the justice system.” Between 2003 and 2008, Florida transferred an average 164 juveniles per 100,000 into the adult system. State law prohibits both defense attorneys and judges from challenging the prosecutor’s decision to send juvenile offenders to adult court.
Within the past five years, more than 12,000 kids have been shipped into the adult system, with 60 percent of these children facing adult sentences for nonviolent crimes. Children as young as 14 can be filed over to the adult justice system. Fourteen—that’s the age of a kid who likely hasn’t yet seen the inside of a high school…
Statistics like these prove how easy it is for these kids to get caught up in a merciless system.
Melbourne Criminal Defense Lawyer Fighting for Juveniles
The juvenile justice system in Florida is unique in the country. As a former prosecutor, Jeffrey Thompson knows firsthand how juvenile cases are handled.
Before a defendant realizes what has happened, he or she is processed through the system and punished – sometimes without fully understanding his or her rights. When you consider how often this happens to young people in our state, it can be overwhelmingly disheartening.
If you are the parent of a child charged with a crime in Florida, it is critical to speak to our Melbourne juvenile criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Call The Law Office of Jeffrey Thompson today to discuss your case and the next steps in your child’s defense.