Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

What Are The Common Types Of Juvenile Cases That You Handle?


Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

Our law firm handles just about everything that someone can possibly get arrested for, whether he or she is a juvenile or an adult. For example, one of the most common crimes for juveniles is minor in possession of alcohol. Each year in Okaloosa and Walton Counties, waves of police officers go undercover to the beach, and arrest literally thousands of young people and charge them with minor in possession of alcohol. This highly aggressive and abusive law enforcement is going on each spring break. It’s so bad, I tell people not to come to Florida for vacation. This even includes families with small children, because of the aggressiveness of law enforcement during spring break. Additionally, we get a lot of drug charges with juvenile individuals, such as possession of marijuana under 20 grams or possession of drug paraphernalia, which is usually cannabis related.

Occasionally, we get a more serious type of drug charge, such as felony possession of a controlled substance. However, by far, the most common juvenile crime that we handle is one that is extremely serious, which is burglary. There are multiple different types of burglaries that juveniles might find themselves involved in, including car burglaries, burglaries to a structure, or burglary to a dwelling. If the juvenile is 16 years of age or older, the juvenile can be waived to adult court under certain conditions. Overall, I would say that almost anything an adult can be arrested for is something that juveniles are arrested for.

One major difference is that we find a large number of cases where you’ll have multiple people in a vehicle, and all of them will be charged with a particular type of crime, even though some of the occupants had nothing to do with it. I remember one case in particular. Even though I’ve seen similar cases approximately a hundred times in my career, this one case sums it up. A group of guys were driving around, and they were drinking. Two of the kids in the backseat, who were 16 years of age, were passed out from alcohol consumption. The two in the front seats of the vehicle came up with a not so great idea that they would go to different condominium complexes in the Fort Walton Beach and Destin areas, and check to see if vehicle doors had been left open. While two in the backseat were asleep, the other two would go to these different locations, get out of the vehicle, and they would check door handles to see if a car or a truck was open. If it was, they would steal just about everything in the vehicle. A guest at one of the complexes, who called the police, noticed the individuals. Law enforcement responded, and all four were arrested. The parents, as well as the two juveniles in the back of the vehicle who had been unconscious during this, kept saying over and over again that they didn’t know anything about it.

However, as anyone who has followed my interviews with you knows, the reality is that the truth does not matter in a criminal case. What matters is what people believe to be the true. If someone is arrested and an officer believes there is probable cause, then it goes to the State Attorney’s office. From there, they will prosecute the juvenile. In these car burglary cases, we do everything we possibly can, like any other case, to help find a way to get these young people acquitted without having any major risk of incarceration in the juvenile detention center. However, these car burglary cases are far more difficult than most other cases, except for sex offenses. We do run into a number of sex offense cases with juveniles as well.

When Can a Child Be Tried As An Adult In Florida?

In Florida, criminal law is set up so that anyone under the age of 18 is considered a juvenile, and their case will be handled in the circuit court. Most cases involving juveniles are handled in juvenile circuit court, with the exception of driving offenses, which are handled in county traffic criminal court. For example, a DUI charge or a charge of driving on a license that is suspended, cancelled, or revoked with knowledge of the cancellation, suspension, or revocation are examples of cases that would be tried in county traffic criminal court. Another way a juvenile case can be handled in circuit court is if the juvenile is over the age of 16 and charged with a serious felony. For example, if the juvenile is charged at the age of 17 with lewd or lascivious acts, molestation, or battery pursuant to Florida Statute Section 800.04, sexual battery of any kind under 794.011, or a child pornography case under Florida statute section 821, those cases are of high risk when it comes to a waiver for adult sanctions. This is critical. If a case is handled in juvenile circuit court, the goal is rehabilitation.

In contrast, the goal of adult criminal court, when it comes to sentencing, is punishment. This is a very different paradigm than the juvenile court goal of rehabilitation. Florida Statute Section 921 is very clear that the purpose of sentencing in adult court is punishment, not rehabilitation. This means that if a juvenile has been waived to adult court, then the state is looking for a jail or a prison sentence of some kind.

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

For more information on Juvenile Cases In Florida, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (850) 466-1522 today.

Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

Get your questions answered - call me for your free, 20 min phone consultation (850) 466-1522

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