Two 14-year-old boys and a 15-year-old girl were arrested this month, accused of beating and carjacking a Jacksonville man and trying to force him to withdraw money from his bank account. The man escaped by running into a Wal-Mart store where the teens planned to use his card inside the store, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man told police as he was getting into his car, three teens pulled him out of the car and punched him in the face repeatedly, the newspaper reported. The teens then stole his watch, wallet and phone, and threw him in the back off the car, threatening to kill him if he tried to escape, the newspaper reported. After two attempts to get money from the man’s bank account failed, the teens drove to the Wal-Mart and the 30-year-old alleged victim took off running into the store, the newspaper reported. The teens took off in the car and the man called police.
Police found the car a couple of days later being towed from a private lot and tracked the teens down using surveillance footage from various Wal-Marts and gas stations where the debit card was used, the newspaper reported. The teens were charged with kidnapping, carjacking, strong-armed robbery and fraudulently using the man’s ATM card, the newspaper reported. All four Jacksonville Violent Crime charges are felonies and the total prison time exposure could essentially be a life sentence – even for teens. The key in this case is whether the state will charge any or all of the three as adults, or treat these as Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Cases. It will be an interesting and closely scrutinized decision. The violent nature of the crimes is exactly where prosecutors in Clay County, Duval County and Nassau County have been choosing to treat the teens as adults and bring the cases through adult court. But, the defendants are particularly young in this case – with two 14-year-old boys and a 15-year-old girl facing serious felony charges in this Jacksonville Violent Crimes Case.
If the state decides to pursue the cases in juvenile court, there are five levels of incarceration, from essentially house arrest on up to what amounts to a prison for teens. The court system in Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes cases is meant to punish teens for their crimes, but also take into consideration that they are not adults and do not have the critical decision-making skills that adults have. Crimes like these would likely lead to something close to a life sentence for an adult, if all charges could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down life sentences for juveniles not convicted of murder, so that would not be an option in this case. But a lengthy prison sentence could be on the table, so it will be interesting to see if these cases end up in adult or juvenile court.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.