Articles Posted in Juvenile Crimes in Jacksonville

The rate that children are being treated as adults in our criminal justice system has plummeted since State Attorney, Melissa Nelson, has taken over the office.  According to an article in the Florida Times Union, the rate that minors are prosecuted as adults has fallen by forty three percent.  The dramatic drop has been attributed to new policies instituted in the prosecutor’s office.  Juvenile justice in Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties was a large part of Ms. Nelson’s platform when she ran for the office.

Prosecutors in the state of Florida have the discretion to charge a juvenile as an adult.  If charged, the child faces the same punishment that an adult would facing the same criminal charges.  If a child is found guilty in adult court, the sentencing judge could sentence the child to adult sanctions, such as sending the child to adult prison.  In Florida, a boy can be housed among men if he was charged in adult court.  Sentencing judges also have the option to impose juvenile sanctions, such as committing the child to a juvenile program.  Regardless of the sentence, if convicted in adult court, the record will stay with the child for the rest of their life.

In order to treat the child as an adult, the state attorney’s office has to file a piece of paper with the court system.  Once filed, there will be a capias (bench warrant) issued and the child will be arrested again.  Often times, there will be an adult bond set on the charges, even if the child has been released by the Jacksonville juvenile court.  The child will be taken to adult jail in Duval County, where there is a special wing for the children being treated as adults.  If the family can, they will bond the child out while the case is pending in adult court.  If not, the child will remain incarcerated in adult jail awaiting their fate.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrested two minors earlier this week after a fight at Ribault High School, according to an article in the Florida Times Union.  A fourteen year-old and thirteen year-old boy were arrested for battery on a school official, which is a felony in Jacksonville.  A third child, a seventeen year-old, is also facing being arrested on this battery charge.  The fight was captured on a video that was posted on a social media site.  There was a fight among the minors and when the assistant principal tried to break it up, he was allegedly battered by the three children.

When any minor juvenile is arrested in Duval or Clay County, they are taken to the Juvenile Detention Center on 8th Street in downtown Jacksonville.  The Department of Juvenile Justice analyzes the charge and the child’s prior arrest history of lack thereof.  The child is assigned a score that determines whether or not they will remain detained.  If their score is less than “12”, the child is released to the parents or guardians.  If the child scores 12 or over, they are held overnight and will be in front of a judge within 24 hours to determine ongoing detention.  If your child is arrested, contact an experienced Juvenile Arrest Lawyer in Jacksonville as soon as possible.  Even if your child is held overnight, they can still be released by the judge the next day if the proper arguments are made to the Court.

These children have been charged with battery on a school official in Duval County.  A school official is defined as any person who is an employee of a school district, a private school, any state university or any other entity of the state system of public education.  Basically any person who works in a school.  A battery in Florida is defined as intentionally touching a person against their will or intentionally physically harming a person.  This is normally a first degree misdemeanor, but becomes elevated to a felony if the alleged victim is a school official.  It is classified as a third degree felony.

First Coast High School has had an dramatic increase in weapon related arrests at their school this month.  According to an article on News4Jax, there have been 5 weapon related arrests at the school in just under a month.  The most recent case was a student who brought a gun to school last week.  The child was arrested on possession of gun charges in Duval County and in addition to the criminal charges, will face school disciplinary actions no matter the disposition of the criminal case.  According to the article, there have been eight separate instances of guns being brought to area schools in 2017.

In the state of Florida, it is illegal to bring a gun or any weapon on school property.  “School” is defined as a preschool, elementary, middle, junior high school secondary school, career school or post secondary school.  This ban also applies to school sanctioned activities.  The child who allegedly brought the gun to school at First Coast was most likely arrested as a juvenile in Jacksonville on a charge of possession of a firearm on school property.  This is a third degree felony in Florida.  If a child is under eighteen, they will be taken to the Juvenile Detention Center on 8th Street.  Once there, the Department of Juvenile Justice will determine if the child is allowed to go home with the parents or guardians or will be detained.  If the child is detained, he or she will have a mandatory detention hearing within twenty-four hours in front of a judge.  The judge will then determine whether or not to keep the child in detention or to release the child on home detention while the juvenile gun case is pending.

If the student was eighteen years of age or older, the student is looking at up to five years in prison and possible becoming a convicted felon.  This is the worst case scenario.  After being arrested, the student will see a judge to determine pretrial release.  Most likely, a bond will be set and there will be a court date about 2 weeks after that first appearance.  Soon after the first appearance date, a prosecutor will be assigned and that prosecutor will make a decision about what to do with the case.  They could file it as charged, reduce the gun charge to a misdemeanor or drop it outright.

Jacksonville police announced that they have arrested more than one juvenile in the murder of a Duval County cab driver late last year, according to an article in the Florida Times Union.  The victim was found shot in his vehicle the night of January 30th.

These juveniles will most likely be treated as adults in this case.  Commonly referred to as “direct file”, the prosecutors in the state of Florida have the discretion to treat children as adults.  This means that a child as young as 14 years-old can be sent to prison if certain factors are met.  If a child is 14 or 15 years-old, they may be sent to adult court if the child is charged with certain serious Jacksonville crimes, such as murder, sexual battery, robbery, kidnapping, aggravated child abuse and carjacking.  If the child is 16 or 17 years of age, they can be sent to adult court if they are charged with any felony, not just the most serious crimes listed above.  The Florida legislature has elected to give state attorney’s offices across the state of Florida so much power over these Duval County juvenile cases.  With one piece of paper, a child’s life can change forever.

When a juvenile is arrested for a felony in Jacksonville, they will receive a “score” that determines whether or not they must remain in secure detention.  Secure detention is a jail for children surrounded by barbed wire located in downtown Jacksonville.  If the crime is non-violent and the child has little to no prior criminal history, the juvenile may qualify for home detention, which is essentially house arrest, or straight release, which means the child is free to go where they want as long as they return for their court dates.  Once detention or non-detention is determined, the case begins.  In many of the felony juvenile cases in Duval County, the prosecutor’s office will look at the child’s file to determine whether or not to send to adult court.  Often times, the Jacksonville Juvenile Attorney on the case will send mitigation to the state attorney assigned to the case.  Mitigation consists of school records, letters from teachers, family and coaches, as well as psychological testing if appropriate.  The goal is to keep the child’s case in juvenile court.

Prosecutors have changed course and are now charging a 15-year-old boy as an adult in four fires police say were deliberately set in a Jacksonville neighborhood.  Fire officials were investigating the fires to three vacant homes and a car in a Jacksonville neighborhood and told police a person had been seen near all of the fires, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. A suspect matching the description was spotted by an officer and the boy was allegedly carrying a can of gas, the newspaper reported. The boy was taken to the juvenile detention center, where most teens are taken following an arrest. However, in this Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Case, the boy has been transferred to the county jail and charged as an adult, the newspaper reported.

Arson is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison on each count. With four counts, this 15-year-old boy could be looking at up to 120 years behind bars. While it is highly unlikely, this appears to be another case of prosecutors using adult charges to try to push a boy around. No one was injured in any of the four fires, and there has not been an estimate on monetary damages in any of the media reports on the incidents.  Even when a Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Case is transferred to adult court, it can still be brought back to juvenile court. In many cases, adult charges are part of the negotiations by the state – right or wrong, that’s the reality. If the crime stays in juvenile court, juveniles can still be punished in the same manner as adults – from house arrest and probation on up to what amounts to a prison for teens. Because this boy is charged with first-degree felonies, some of the lower level options are not available to him. Those sentences include house arrest and placement in a low-risk residential facility. Judges have latitude in most juvenile cases, but there are certain punishment standards driven by the type and severity of the crime a child is facing.

The juvenile court system is in place to handle youth and teens differently than adults, recognizing that people make mistakes in their youth that should not completely ruin their ability to be a productive adult. In many Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Cases, there is a one-size-fits-all approach to punish to the highest degree and treat kids like adults.  Our Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against your loved one and work to have the case addressed in juvenile court – where it belongs.  Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney has represented hundreds of juveniles accused of crimes, including very serious crimes, and is well-versed in the law regarding juvenile crimes.

Prosecutors have charged a 15-year-old as an adult in the shooting death of a Jacksonville man. The teen and two others were not invited to a March party in a Jacksonville apartment, but showed up anyway and soon got into an argument with the victim, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The victim was pistol whipped and shot in the head, according to the newspaper, and died several days after the incident.

The teen is charged with second-degree murder, which has a penalty of up to life in state prison – though recent Supreme Court decisions have not thought highly of life sentences for juveniles, even in Jacksonville Murder Cases. Both other men with the victim were also arrested – a 26-year-old charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and a 19-year-old charged with possession of a firearm by a juvenile delinquent, the newspaper reported. In Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Cases, the state has the option to try the case in juvenile court or can choose for what is called a “direct file” and move the case directly to adult court. That is often the option local prosecutors choose, especially in Jacksonville Gun Crimes Cases and Jacksonville Murder Cases. One of the interesting aspects in this case is the charge of second-degree murder. Once the facts come out in the case, it will be more apparent if premeditation was there that would qualify it for first-degree murder, but it does lead one to wonder if the state filed it as second-degree murder in part to keep mandatory life off the table.

In first-degree murder cases, the only possible sentences are life in prison or the death penalty. The state cannot seek death when the defendant is a juvenile, so the only other option is life in prison. But, last year a state court overturned the life sentence of a Jacksonville man who was 16 when he robbed and stabbed a man to death in 2010. In second-degree murder, the judge can sentence a defendant to anywhere from 25 years to life in prison – but the key for this Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Case is that is cannot be life – or a sentence of, for example, 70 years, which is essentially a life sentence. The Legislature and courts are still working on what the state deems fair in sentencing juveniles, and there will likely be several more contested sentences before there is a resolution as to what is appropriate.

What school and police officials say was a random check in a Jacksonville high school classroom turned up a loaded gun in the sock of a 16-year-old boy. The student was arrested on the felony charge of bringing a weapon onto a school campus and was ordered to be held in a juvenile detention center, according to a report on News4Jax. The teen told police he was having problems with some people outside of school, was going to be walking to a friend’s house that day and thought he needed it to protect himself, the television station reported. Bringing a weapon onto school grounds is a third-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to five years in state prison.

That punishment in a Jacksonville Gun Crimes case is for if the boy is charged and sentenced as an adult. The mere fact that this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case is a high school student being caught with a gun in a classroom would indicate that this is a Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Case and should be handled through the juvenile justice system, though that is not always the case. Assuming that it does stay in the juvenile system, the range of penalties is far different than it is for adults. There are five different levels of juvenile detention, ranging from non-residential programs in which the students can still attend school, on up to what amounts to a prison for teens. Because this Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Case involves a gun, the defendant would automatically be disqualified from the two least serious options. At the very least, if convicted, the teen would likely be in a locked juvenile facility serving a sentence with little access to the community. In some cases, teens are allowed to visit home or enroll in school near the end of their sentence to help get everything in order to move on with their lives after being released.

In terms of school, the teen’s options could be limited, too, as a result of this Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Case. Bringing a weapon to school is an automatic suspension in Florida and could ultimately lead to the student being expelled from school entirely. That leaves the teen without many places to turn to get an education that he will need to lead a productive life. There are some educational programs in the juvenile detention centers where a student can stay on track for his or her diploma, and the schools look at each student individually when determining whether he or she can return to school.

A Clay County legislator has again filed a bill to bring the state’s sentencing of juveniles in line with two Supreme Court rulings that have altered that landscape in recent years. One 2010 ruling eliminated life sentences for juveniles in cases other than murder and a second two years later banned mandatory life sentences for juveniles, even in murder cases. In the wake of those two cases, many of the 265 juveniles now sentenced to life in Florida prisons have been in limbo as judges sought guidance on the issue, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union.

State Sen. Rob Bradley, for the second straight year, has introduced a bill to clean up the law. The proposal is revised slightly this year and would set a maximum penalty of 35 years for juveniles who are found guilty of crimes that do not involve a death. Parole hearings could also be set every 25 years to discuss an early release – but not for juveniles convicted of murder. Those sentences would not be subject to further consideration. The proposal for Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes cases would still allow for juveniles to been sentenced to life in prison for murder. However, there would be a special hearing for the judge to consider the defendant’s likelihood of rehabilitation and his or her personal and family background before a life sentence can be issued. A sentencing hearing of sorts is held in almost every other case but, in Florida, people convicted of first-degree murder can only be sentenced to life in prison or the death penalty. Juveniles cannot be sentenced to death and it was the mandatory nature of the life sentence that the Supreme Court overruled.

While the regulations would apply for people convicted of the most serious of crimes, most defendants in Jacksonville Juvenile Crime Cases never see the inside of a prison cell. The system is designed to provide punishment, but also to keep in mind that brushes with the law can happen to juveniles and those mistakes should not have a lifelong effect. For common Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes such as burglary, vandalism and drug possession, common penalties include community service and probation. As conditions of probation, a Jacksonville Juvenile Crime defendant may have to meet periodically with a probation officer, submit to drug tests and stay out of further trouble. There are also varying degree of incarceration available to judges in Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Cases, from house arrest all the way up to what amounts to a juvenile prison. Our Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Attorney can work for your loved one to try to ensure that the case stays in the juvenile court system and that a sentence won’t keep him or her from moving on from a poor decision.

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.

A 16-year-old St. Johns County juvenile inmate likely made his stay significantly longer after he was caught about 200 miles away the same day. Syllas McMillan was caught after he took a cab from St. Johns County to Inverness and then skipped out on the $275 cab fare, according to a report from First Coast News. The cab driver called police who, thinking it was likely McMillan, searched the area, the television station reported. McMillan was found by a police dog on a wooded area.

McMillan now faces a Florida escape charge, on top of the non-violent theft and burglary charges that landed him under juvenile supervision in the first place. McMillan was on an approved field trip to a local horse ranch when he allegedly kicked out a bathroom window and took off on foot, the television station reported. And, in this St. Johns County Juvenile Crimes case, McMillan just made his life a lot more difficult.

In St. Johns County Juvenile Crimes cases, there are a wide-range of punishments and supervision requirements. The most severe, obviously, is being housed in a juvenile detention center – essentially a prison for teens. But there are other options where teens can have some degree of freedom, including field trips and other activities like the one McMillan was on last week. The Florida juvenile system is supposed to be designed toward rehabilitating the teens and making them productive members of society, so there are certain freedoms and responsibilities given. But running away on a field trip is a good way to have any and all of those freedoms taken away. It will be interesting to see if the state decides to charge McMillan as a juvenile or as an adult on the escape charge. Deputies poured plenty of resources into trying to find him, setting up searches along Interstate 95, S.R. 16 and all throughout World Gold Village. He was wearing street clothes, so it’s not like the cab driver would have automatically known by looking at McMillan that he had escaped.