Juveniles arrested in St. Johns County crime spree

June 12, 2013

Two teens were arrested last week on a slew of theft and more serious charges after a failed attempt to flee from St. Johns County police. A 15-year-old and a 13-year-old were initially sniffed out by a man who saw the two teens inside his van and pressed the panic button to activate his vehicle alarm and scare them off, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The teens allegedly took off in another car and one of them rammed a stolen car into a police car and also nearly ran over an officer on foot, the newspaper reported.

The Florida felony charges are serious and this will be an interesting St. Johns County Juvenile Crimes case to watch to determine whether the boys will receive punishments that lean more toward adult crimes or juvenile crimes. The 15-year-old is charged with grand theft auto, two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and driving without a license, the newspaper reported. Grand theft auto in Jacksonville is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and driving without a license is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in the county jail. So, all told, the teen could be looking at a total of more than 35 years in prison if charged as an adult in these St. Johns County Juvenile Crimes Cases. That's highly unlikely, especially since he is 15 years old, but shows how quickly bad decisions can spiral and charges can add up when someone starts to flee from police. In most cases, especially if it is a first offense, teens are punished within the juvenile justice system. Teens can be placed on probation, or sentenced to one of a variety of levels of detention. Those levels are:

• Minimum Risk Non-Residential: The teen must attend this program five days a week, but can continue to go to school or work. Typically teens with less serious offenses are placed here.
• Low Risk Residential: These residential programs provide education and treatment in a campus-style environment in which participants still have full access to the community. Children in this program also present a low risk to themselves and the community.
• Moderate Risk Residential: Juveniles are supervised 24 hours a day and the youth are allowed some supervised release. Education and treatment are both provided as part of the sentence, but handcuffs can be used to restrain juveniles in these facilities.
• High Risk Residential: Children in these facilities are confined here and not allowed to leave. However, teens finishing the program may be granted permission to visit his or her home, enroll in school or go to a job interview during the last days of the sentence.
• Maximum Risk Residential: These programs are essentially prisons for juveniles.
In theory, juveniles are treated differently by the criminal courts so people have opportunities to learn from their mistakes and move onto lead productive lives. Teens make mistakes, as evidenced by this St. Johns County Juvenile Crimes case, but that should not mean a lifetime of punishment.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in St. Johns County or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our St. Johns County Juvenile Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.