When Are Juveniles Charged as Adults in Florida?

As a parent, it’s bad enough to have your child facing criminal charges of any kind, even in the juvenile court system, but for your son or daughter to face the possibility of being charged as an adult, now that is downright worrisome. Why? Because, when a minor is prosecuted as an adult and they are convicted, they face the same penalties as an adult; they do not receive leniency because of their age.

In Florida, if a juvenile is charged with certain felonies, he or she can have their case transferred to adult court for prosecution. This means the juvenile would be prosecuted exactly the same as an adult would if he or she were accused of committing the same crime.

3 Ways a Juvenile Can Be Charged as an Adult

A juvenile’s case can be prosecuted in adult court through an indictment, a waiver, or through a direct file.

  1. Indictments usually involve minors under the age of 14 who committed a serious crime that is punishable by life in prison or death.
  1. With a waiver, the prosecutor asks the juvenile court judge to transfer a minor’s case to adult court; however, the juvenile offender must be at least 14 years old. In these cases, the judge reviews the juvenile’s history, and their likelihood of rehabilitation. After reviewing the facts of the case and the child’s individual circumstances, the judge issues a decision.
  1. The third method is through a direct file, which can be mandatory or discretionary. The vast majority of youth prosecuted in adult criminal court are sent there through the direct file process. With mandatory direct files, state law says that when juveniles age 16 or older commit certain crimes, they must be tried as an adult and there are no exceptions.

Note: In regard to discretionary direct-files, the prosecutor can file charges against a child age 14 and older for certain offenses in the adult court system. Discretionary direct-files are at the discretion of the prosecutor and judges cannot do anything to change the prosecutor’s decision, even if he or she disagrees with a transfer to adult court.

Next: Effects of a Criminal Record

Is your son or daughter facing criminal charges in West Palm Beach? If so, contact my firm at once to request a free case evaluation.


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