When your child faces a criminal charge, you may find that it keeps you up at night. You may feel especially fearful if you believe there is a chance the state of Florida might try him or her as an adult. The repercussions associated with adult offenses are often much more severe than those handed down for juvenile offenses. However, your child may undergo prosecution as an adult only in limited circumstances.
Per the National Juvenile Defender Center, Florida may prosecute your child as an adult if one of the following four circumstances exists.
1. Statutory exclusion
If your child is at least 16 and faces a charge for certain felony or non-felony offenses, he or she may undergo prosecution in adult court.
2. Prosecutorial discretion
A child as young as 14 may undergo prosecution in adult court if he or she faces certain types of serious charges and the state attorney decides to file those charges in adult court.
3. Discretionary judicial transfer
The prosecutor in your child’s case maintains the right to transfer him or her to adult court if your son or daughter is at least 14. Depending on your child’s alleged offense and whether he or she offended in the past, the prosecutor may need to have the court approve the request to move your child’s case to adult court.
4. Past offenses
If your child underwent prosecution as an adult in the past, he or she must undergo prosecution in adult court when facing any other charges thereafter. There are very limited exceptions to this.
Most Florida residents who are under 18 undergo prosecution as juveniles. However, if your child faces a serious criminal charge and has faced others in the past, the state may decide to try him or her as an adult.