Miami Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney

It’s been said that youth is wasted on the young, and Florida’s youth often make mistakes, some of which rise to the level of criminal offenses. While parents are responsible for teaching their children the difference between right and wrong, crimes committed by minors under the age of 18 are not uncommon. If your child has been charged with a crime, it is imperative to consult an experienced Miami juvenile criminal defense attorney.

Valiente Law routinely handles juvenile crimes in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and throughout South Florida. Knowing that a child with a criminal record faces an uncertain future, we will work to protect your child’s rights in the juvenile justice system. Our criminal defense attorneys are familiar with the procedures of the juvenile court and will see to it that your child is given a second chance. We frequently handle a wide range of juvenile offenses, including:

Ultimately, having the right criminal defense attorney defend your child can mean the difference between an acquittal and a conviction (or as it’s known in the juvenile system: a finding of delinquent or not delinquent). When you enlist the services of Valiente Law, you will have peace of mind, knowing that our juvenile crimes attorneys are committed to protecting your child’s future.

How Florida’s Juvenile Court System Works

When a child under the age of 18 is charged with a crime in Florida, the case may be handled in the juvenile justice system. Unlike Florida’s adult criminal courts, the juvenile court system is designed to rehabilitate minors who commit crimes rather than strictly punish them. Severe crimes, however, such as rape, murder, aggravated burglary, and other violent crimes, are often transferred to adult court.

After a child is arrested for a crime in Florida, the Department of Children and Families will arrange a conference with the family and make recommendations to the state lawyer about whether to file formal charges. A child placed in the juvenile system has the same rights as an adult in a criminal proceeding, including the right to be represented by a criminal defense attorney.

Depending on the charges, juvenile offenders typically receive more lenient sentences and are given a second chance through juvenile diversion programs. According to the International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology, youth diversion programs are effective in preventing juvenile offenders from committing future offenses.

There are several diversion programs available that are designed to give youthful offenders a second chance by sealing their records, provided that they complete certain sanctions and obey all rules of the program. Potential sanctions include completing community service, educational seminars, and courses on drugs and alcohol, as well as writing letters of apology to victims of their crimes.

If the child is not eligible for a diversion program because he or she is a repeat offender or has committed a serious crime, then the case will go to trial or adjudicatory hearing. It is worth noting that there are no juries in juvenile court, and all cases are decided by a judge. If your child is found guilty, the judge may either impose a sentence of probation or a juvenile prison sentence that can range from 30 days to 36 months, depending on the nature of the offense and the juvenile’s prior record.

The best decision you can make to protect your child’s future is to enlist the services of a juvenile crimes attorney who is comfortable in the juvenile courts. Working with the right attorney increases the likelihood that your child will be diverted from the justice system.

Minors Tried as Adults (“Direct Filed”) Under Florida Law

Under Florida law, a minor may be charged as an adult when he or she:

  • Has been charged with a “forcible felony’” and was 16 years of age or older when the crime was committed
  • Stole a vehicle and caused serious bodily harm, injury, or death to another
  • Has been charged with murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, sexual battery, robbery, burglary, arson, or kidnapping and was 16 years of age or older when the crime was committed.

In addition, Florida prosecutors have discretion in determining whether to try a minor’s criminal case in adult court. Some of the factors involved in this determination include:

  • The minor’s prior record of arrests and convictions
  • The nature and extent of the minor’s prior offenses
  • The minor’s current age
  • Whether there are any other pending juvenile cases against the minor
  • Although the juvenile justice system is supposedly designed to rehabilitate juvenile offenders, overzealous prosecutors frequently recommend trying minors in adult court and push for harsh sentences. The best way for your child to avoid being tried as an adult unfairly is to work with an experienced juvenile crimes attorney.

Contact Our Miami Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer

When a child is charged with a juvenile offense, it can be an overwhelming experience for the entire family. When it comes to protecting your child against the devastating effects of a conviction, it is crucial to work with an attorney who is well-versed in Florida juvenile law.

At Valiente Law, we believe that minors who have been charged with a juvenile offense are entitled to the presumption of innocence, as well as the powerful legal representation we can provide. We will leverage our skills and experience to keep your child’s case out of adult court, seek to have the charges dropped or work to win an acquittal. We will also determine whether your child is eligible for a first-time juvenile offender diversion program.

Above all, our primary concern is protecting your child’s future. Please contact our office today to learn how we can defend your child for his or her alleged juvenile crime.