Colorado Juvenile Judge Scott Johansen offered the mother of 13-year-old daughter and defendant Kaytlen Lopan, a way to reduce her daughter’s sentence. Kaytlen and her friend had befriended a 3-year-old girl at a McDonald’s and then cut the little girl’s hair off with a pair of scissors. Judge Johansen had originally sentenced Kaytlen to 30 days in detention and 276 hours of community service, but later offered Kaytlen’s mother, Valerie Bruno, a deal. If she used a pair of scissors to cut her teenage daughter’s ponytail off immediately in the courtroom, he would reduce her sentence. Bruno cut off her daughter’s ponytail, but later regretted it, filing a formal complaint against Johansen.
The juvenile justice system generally has jurisdiction over crimes committed by juveniles until their 18th birthday. Unknown to most is that the juvenile system is not exactly “criminal” at all, being more civil in nature. Should a child be prosecuted in Juvenile Court, the State Attorney and Judge have a number of available options to resolve a pending case, assuming that there are no possible defenses to the charge.
In Florida, there are many forms of alternative sentencing possibilities for juvenile offenders, including drug court, diversion programs and other sentencing measures that involve little or no incarceration time. Particularly for juvenile offenders in Jacksonville, there are many alternatives to jail time that can allow the juvenile to move on without the scars of a prison sentence.
In Florida, a “youthful offender” (YO) is any juvenile who is sentenced as such by the court or is classified as such by the Department of Corrections. There are two ways by which a defendant can become entitled to the benefits of the YO statute:
– the trial court can sentence the defendant as a YO, or
– the Department of Corrections can designate a defendant who was sentenced as an adult to be a YO.
Many times, juvenile Judges will create an option for sentencing that they feel may be more meaningful and beneficial personally to the child, and perhaps less costly in the long-run. For many, this may be military school, holding signs on public street corners, speaking at victim’s advocacy events, and even visiting a mortuary room in some extreme cases involving a possible death.
For many, these options may seem extreme; however, the consequences of the alternative, having one’s child sit in juvenile detention, or other options that may potentially hinder the child’s ability to change for the better.
The key to obtaining a favorable outcome when young children and juveniles face criminal charges is thorough investigation of the circumstance of the offense. Through proper investigation, one’s experienced attorney can determine if the prosecution has satisfactory evidence to establish guilt, and if so, will be able to help the juvenile fashion a sentence which satisfies the requirement for punishment, but is beneficial to the juvenile’s rehabilitation.
Adolescents are involved in incidents like this every day. Not every one of those individuals were intending to hurt anyone and are just teenagers making bad decisions. One in a situation like this should obtain an experienced Jacksonville juvenile crimes defense attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights and defenses are known and protected.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.
Additional Source: Hair for hair, Laura Edwins, The Christian-Science Monitor