Jacksonville Juveniles And The Dangers Of Too Much Fun, State v. Rhoden Shows

Jacksonville is the type of city that encourages children and teenagers to have fun, explore, and interact with their surroundings. Unfortunately, Jacksonville juvenile crimes occur because some children have too much or the wrong kind of fun.One facing a juvenile crimes case should have an experienced Jacksonville Juvenile defense lawyer to represent, defend, and ensure their rights are protected.

In State vs. Rhoden, Learnhart Rhoden, 17 year old from Florida was charged as a juvenile with discharging a destructive device. This minor was later tried and sentenced as an adult. This case shows that how the juvenile detention system is supposed to function versus how the system functioned in this case are two completely separate things.

In Florida, the Juvenile detention system is aimed at changing behavior rather than punishing children. In Florida, the juvenile court system is different from the adult court system. Handcuffs%20on%20child.jpg
In Florida, a juvenile cannot post bond like in the adult court system. When a minor first enters the juvenile court system, they will be taken to Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC), where they must go through a detention calculation, called a Risk Assessment Instrument (RAI) of which they must score under a certain amount of points, or perceived risks, to be released. These points or factors are based on the minor’s criminal record, the particular crime he or she was charged with, and other factors listed and set by Florida statutes. RAI’s are subject to review by a judge. This review hearing occurs within 24 hours of the juvenile being booked.

If the child is to be held in detention, the longest that he or she can be held is 21 days. This is the longest amount of time that the State Attorney’s office is allowed to take to decide whether to try the case. If the State Attorney’s office cannot make a decision in that amount of time whether to try the case, the juvenile is released. Furthermore, Florida statute requires that many children be released, even though the offense would result in a lock-up or an expensive bond in an adult court. However, some children slip through the cracks of the system. But if you have an experienced Jacksonville juvenile crimes lawyer, your child will not be subject to the inadequacies of this imperfect system.

In the State v. Rhoden case, Rhoden was tried as an adult and sentenced as an adult. Sentencing a juvenile as an adult is allowed under Florida Statute §39.111(6)(d), assuming that the judge addresses the six criteria making an adult sanction suitable or unsuitable. Under this statute, a minor can be tried if:

– The seriousness of the offense to the community and whether the protection of the community requires adult supervision
– Whether the offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated, or willful manner
– Whether the offense was against persons or against property, greater weight being given to offenses against persons especially if personal injury resulted
– The sophistication and maturity of the child, as determined by consideration of his home, environmental situation, emotional attitude, and pattern of living
– The record and previous history of the child, including:
– Previous contacts with the department, the Department of Corrections, other law enforcement agencies, and court
– Prior periods of probation or community control
– Prior adjudications that the child committed a violation of law, and
– Prior commitments to institutions
– The prospects for adequate protection of the public and the likelihood of reasonable rehabilitation of the child if he is assigned to juvenile services and facilities

In Rhoden’s situation, the Judge threw all caution to the wind and ignored the 6 criteria for being sentenced as an adult. As a result, Rhoden got ten years in an adult prison.


A person in this situation seems to be facing a wall that they cannot climb over. If only there was a way out; but there is a way out. One needs an experienced Jacksonville juvenile crimes lawyer to fight for their rights as minors and make sure that they have the best defense presented for them.

The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for more than a decade and is here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one requires a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.

Additional Resources:
Juvenile Court Procedures, by The Honorable Lee E. Haworth, Twelfth Judicial Circuit of Florida

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