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Can my child be charged as an adult in Florida?

Under Florida law it possible for a juvenile who is 14 or older to be charged as an adult. In legal terms, it is known as "direct filing".

The decision whether or not to direct file a charge will depend largely on two factors. The first major factor is the child's criminal history. If you child has had many run-ins with law enforcement and has been adjudicated delinquent enough times, the State may consider filing new charges as an adult. This will most often happen to those juveniles who are 17 and almost turning 18. What resources have gone into helping the juvenile will also be factored in – has he been to a minimum, medium, maximum risk facility? Has there been some kind of drug or psychological counseling offered? It is when the juvenile system runs out of resources that the State starts considering filing on the juvenile as an adult.

The second, and probably most significant factor, is the charge that is being considered for direct filing. If the charges are a misdemeanor or relatively minor felony, such as grand theft or possession of controlled substance, it is unlikely that the State will decide to direct file. However, the more serious the charge, the more likely it is that the State will decide to charge the child as an adult. This is especially true if the charge is violent in nature. If the charge involves a firearm, the State will almost always direct file.

For the most part, it is within the discretion of the prosecutor to file the charges in adult court or to leave them in juvenile court. There are a few, limited circumstances in which the State must direct file on a juvenile, but those are extreme cases. Even if the State direct files on a juvenile the court may still give the child juvenile sanctions.

If your child is facing juvenile or adult charges, please do not hesitate call an attorney at Soler & Slack, P.A. at (941)444-5128.

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