State charges 16-year-old boy as an adult in fatal crash

The 16-year-old driver has been charged as an adult for his role in the high-speed crash that killed his 15-year-old friend. The state this month filed charges in the August crash, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Three teens were in the car and the driver had rear-ended a car on Jacksonville’s Westside, the newspaper reported. The driver then sped off and, less than a mile later, crashed the car into a utility pole, the newspaper reported. One passenger was killed and the driver and third passenger were both seriously injured in the crash.

The driver is now charged as an adult in this Jacksonville Traffic Case with vehicular homicide, among a handful of serious charges. Vehicular homicide is a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison. The boy is also facing other felony charges that include driving without a license causing death and driving without a license causing serious bodily injury. The boy is facing more than two decades behind bars and the main issue in this Jacksonville Felony Case is whether the case will ultimately be handled in juvenile court or in adult court.

The juvenile court system is designed to address crimes involving youth, with an eye on rehabilitation and not having lifelong criminal records for youthful mistakes. However, in serious felony cases, the state has the ability to “direct file” cases. That means the cases bypass juvenile court and are treated as is the defendant was 60, not 16. That was the procedure followed in this Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Case. The newspaper reported the teens were skipping school when the crash occurred, but there was no information released on if the driver has a previous criminal record. That piece of information would likely play a large role in the decision to direct file. If, for example, a teen has had several chances and continues to get into trouble, the state may direct file in a Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Case to prove a point.

Charging a boy as an adult can also be a negotiating tactic for the state. Juvenile crimes have a similar punishment system as adults, ranging from house arrest to what amounts to a prison for teens. But punishment ends at age 21. So, in this Jacksonville Juvenile Case, the boy would be released in five years, rather than potentially 25 years. Just because a charge against a boy starts in adult court does not mean it will end there. Our Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Attorney is experienced in juvenile cases and works with clients to try to keep juvenile cases in juvenile court where they belong.

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 Juvenile Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.