Articles Posted in Juvenile

There is a greater need for change in Florida’s juvenile justice system, beyond the significant strides our state has made in making changes to the system. For many of Jacksonville’s juveniles, the challenges Florida faces in transforming juvenile justice force juveniles to be harmed by a system that is intended to help.

One of the major changes to the Florida Juvenile Justice system is the attempted return to a state Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) supervision model for juveniles returning home from a residential program, eliminating the highly successful Community-Based Intervention Services (CBIS) treatment model that has been implemented statewide for over half a decade. National research, as well as past experience with the JPO supervision model in Florida indicate that using state JPOs to supervise reentry youths is remains an largely ineffective model to prevent further reoffenders reentering the justice system.

The CBIS model, developed by DJJ, applicably combines case management, supervision and treatment, and uses local community organizations to see that the juvenile and their family are appropriately supported. Comparative statistical data shows this model has resulted in 76-92 percent of juveniles (varying somewhat by judicial circuit) being crime free one year after release from the program, compared to the 50-59 percent under the JPO supervision model.

Putting troubled juveniles into ever-more severe and life-shattering punishments that will change their perception of society for the worse goes against everything the juvenile justice system stands for, robbing these youth of opportunities to change their behavior rather than giving them ways of behaving that are more positive. Many states’ emphasis on incarceration and punishment interferes with effective diversionary, treatment, and rehabilitation practices. Most states only rarely implement evidence-based diversionary practices, mental health and substance use treatment, and rehabilitation practices.

In Florida, some juvenile offenders are able to get into one such diversionary program known as Pre-trial Intervention (PTI). The PTI program is administered by the State of Florida through the Department of Corrections (DOC). Eligible individuals who enter into a PTI agreement will be required to participate in a supervised program similar to probation, except at the end of the intervention term, if all conditions are successfully completed, the charge will be dismissed.

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, may potentially hinder the child’s ability to change for the better, being a productive member of society who will be able to escape the chains of the legal system.

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 juvenile crimes every day. Not every one of those juveniles 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.

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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.

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Jacksonville’s residents sometimes experience times in their lives where they will be involved with the legal system, either being the victim of a crime or being the accused. However, if one is convicted of that crime, the punishment should not be unreasonable. If something like this has happened to someone, they should contact an experienced attorney to fight the case.

According to Warchant.com, James Wilder Jr., running-back for the FSU Seminoles, has been arrested for violating his probation. The violation stems from a blood alcohol test taken by Wilder, 20, prior to a court-ordered work camp day. Wilder had a .01 blood alcohol content according to his attorney Tim Jansen, which is below the normal legal limit for people under the age of 21. Wilder Jr. is being held without bond.

Jacksonville probation violation cases typically involve someone has wrongfully violated their probation. However, in this case, the purported violation is in many ways hard to prove . Many times in Jacksonville, people may have probation requirements that may seem odd; the difference is that the probation requirements are reasonably connected to the crime that occurred.

Probation requirements can broadly range in type, though there are many standard requirements placed upon those in the system, including:

– Reporting to a probation officer
– Community service hours
– Being Prohibited from alcohol consumption
– Restitution payments to victims
– Submitting to drug testing and treatment
– Letters of apology
– Obtaining a job
– Mental health evaluations
– Paying for Supervision costs
– Some jail-time as a condition of probation
– Being prohibited from violating any law
– Being Prohibited from leaving the state
These are just some of the standard requirements for probation. The Judge who will decide what terms are to be included in the probation sentence can impose some of their own particular personalized terms to be added to the final sentence. When a person violates that probation, they are not entitled to a monetary bond, even if the crime is a misdemeanor. When the accused goes before the Judge to explain his actions, the accused’s freedom merely hangs on what the Judge thinks about the case.

One problem that Wilder Jr. might face is his prior history with alcohol. This incident marks a new set of alcohol related charges that violated a probationary sentence for a previous misdemeanor. The Judge who initially presided over Wilder Jr.’s case will most likely see this type of violation as a message that Wilder Jr. is unwilling to change.

However, Wilder Jr. has many factors in his case that might prove to resolve his probation without any punishment at all. From the article, it is unclear whether Wilder Jr.’s blood test was done at random or if one of the work camp officials claimed Wilder Jr. smelled of alcohol. Furthermore, a number of different things could cause a .01 blood alcohol content, including swallowing mouthwash after brushing his teeth, that has alcohol in it, or using other normally hygiene-related products that might have alcohol in them.

At this point, there is reasonable doubt whether Wilder Jr. was actually drinking. With the help of an experienced Jacksonville probation violations defense attorney, even if Wilder Jr. had to plea to the violation, his experienced attorney could persuade the Judge to render a much lighter punishment that would involve counseling or a slightly longer probation, rather than just incarceration.

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Jacksonville’s citizens, particularly its youth, make mistakes. Even though the child may have been aware enough of the event to understand what happened, a child may not understand their rights subsequent to that event. If one or one’s loved one has been in a situation like this, one should obtain an experienced attorney to fight the case and ensure their rights are protected.

According to the Florida Times Union, Cristian Fernandez may be subject to a psychologist’s examination and opinion of whether Fernandez understands his constitutional rights, before a Judge will decide on a suppression hearing. Cristian Fernandez was indicted for the sexual assault of his five-year-old half-brother, and the murder of his two-year old half-brother. If the Judge presiding allows a psychologist to interview Fernandez, the prosecution, as well as police, hopes the answers given in that interview will show that Fernandez understood his rights and thus, evidence that might hurt Fernandez would be admitted.

Jacksonville juvenile crimes cases tend to be simple and relatively quick cases to move through the system. However, in the case of Cristian Fernandez, his defense team is not going to give up so easily. The newest issues and possibly the most important to Fernandez’s case are the overarching questions: What exactly does Fernandez understand, and how does that knowledge effect his criminal prosecution?

If the police follow proper procedure by telling the accused their rights, and their attorney explains their rights, then the accused is typically assumed to have understood their rights under the Constitution at the time questioning begins. However, when the accused is barely a teenager, the question of what an adult would understand and what a child would understand comes into play, making one question what Fernandez might or might not understand about his rights.

A reasonable person given the circumstances must understand what one’s rights are before the police begin questioning and use the statements given against the accused in criminal prosecution. In this case, Fernandez’s defense team disagrees with the Prosecution’s take that Fernandez understood what he was saying, being asked, and his rights. Fernandez’s defense team says that a series of answers at the end of the interview proves that Fernandez did not know or understand his rights.

If you are in a situation such as this, do not settle for a mediocre defense attorney. Get an experienced Jacksonville juvenile crimes defense attorney who will fight your case with the best defense possible and the strongest will power available. One should not risk going to jail for a long period of time when an experienced attorney can make sure that their best defense is brought forth and their rights fought for.

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Jacksonville’s citizens have mischievous ways about them at times and do things that are small violations of the law. However, when the time comes for the law to collect for those crimes, teenagers receive the blame. If someone or their child has been accused of a crime such as this, one should contact an experienced attorney to fight for one’s case and ensure one’s rights are protected.

According to The Palm Beach Post, Brendan Riley Bell of Indiana has been charged with felony-burglary, felony-larceny and misdemeanor property damage in the trashing of Stanwood Higgins’ boat in the Florida Keys. Bell’s arrest came after a warrant was issued based on eye- witness accounts that Bell urinated on the captain’s chair of Higgins’ boat, dumped fishing tackle and equipment overboard, and then stole a security guard golf-cart, attempting to drive it into the ocean.

Jacksonville criminal mischief cases typically involve some sort of immature act that is not entirely serious in nature but at the same time, reflects some possible danger for the victim, either monetarily or physically. Unfortunately for Jacksonville’s juveniles is that they are blamed for many criminal mischief activities, even if there were none involved at all.
In this case, Bell has been charged with third-degree felony, a first-degree felony, and a first-degree misdemeanor, which, if convicted on all charges, could result in Bell going to prison for well over a decade. This is too long of a time for a young person to spend in jail when the evidence presented.

The police issued an arrest warrant based on one alleged eye witness who said they saw Bell urinate on the boat. Eye- witness accounts are easily mistakable and as such, the person accused of the crime is often not the person that the eye- witness testimony said it was. Bell was also allegedly on surveillance footage vandalizing the boat. However, just because someone fits a description on a video camera does not mean that they did the crime.

Furthermore, Higgins reportedly said to interviewers that he had never met Bell before, but that Bell had chosen the wrong boat to vandalize. This statement may not seem to be very important, but an experienced attorney might see this as a possible admission that Higgins might have the ability to maliciously prosecute Bell in order get even with him in criminal prosecution. Furthermore, the fact the in-state warrant issued for Bell’s arrest was amended very quickly to catch Bell in any state shows that Higgins might have heavily influenced the decision.

Many times throughout Jacksonville, accused people are subject to hunch theories that lead to their arrest and hassle in the court system. If one or one’s loved one has been the victim of such an arrest, one should obtain an experienced Jacksonville criminal mischief defense attorney to fight for one’s case and ensure one’s rights are known and protected.

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Jacksonville’s youth and adults have addictions. Some can be as simple as tv shows or sportscenter. However, when that addiction causes problems with one being able to function in normal society or even private life, one’s life flips upside down. Much worse is the effects on one’s life when the addiction becomes a charge in the legal system. However, if one obtains an experienced attorney to fight for one’s case, one will have the best defense possible and can be sure that one can get the treatment one needs to move on and have a better drug free life.

According to the Bradenton-Herald, a substantial amount of Florida’s teenagers have popped up on the radar for charges of drug use. Many people know of teenagers’ recreational drug use in society and in many areas of society, this use is accepted. However, use of synthetic marijuana is and has been increasing in teenagers lives, having majorly detrimental effects on not only one’s personal life, but life in the legal system when these teenagers are accused of this use.

Jacksonville drug crimes that involve juveniles are typically cases of peer pressure. Most cases of drug use by minors involves their drug use starting out with very occasional marijuana use. However, this casual use springs into a full-fledged addiction for many of Florida’s adolescents. These addictions have some of the worst affects, particularly when their original drug of choice does not do the trick anymore.

Synthetic Marijuana, also known as K2, Serenity Now, Red Magic, Black Mamba, Mr. Sticky and other names, is typically sold over the counter in incense form. The packaging of this substance has labeled “Not for human consumption”, however, as most know, teenagers do not always follow warning labels. This substance causes hallucinations, increased anxiety, and according to some doctors, psychosis.

This substance was added to the list of controlled substances last year, as its effects over a long period of time can cause major damage to the heart, liver, and other areas of the body. The State is attempting to crack down on the mass use of this drug before it becomes as wide spread as other common drugs such as marijuana or cocaine. However, the State may not be kind to the drug’s unfortunate victims.

If one or one’s child has been accused of partaking in this illegal substance, one should obtain an experienced Jacksonville drug crimes attorney to fight for one’s case. One is already suffering from the harmful effects of an addiction; one should not suffer at the hands of the legal system as well. An experienced attorney can bring to light one’s struggle with addiction. One needs a help up, not a lock down.

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Jacksonville’s youth have points in their lives where they feel that they must show the world who they are, in drastic measures sometimes. When that happens, a lot of times the action they chose to introduce them to attention is illegal. However, this does not mean that the child should be severely punished for an act of immaturity. One in this situation needs an experienced attorney to fight for one’s case and ensure one’s rights are protected.

According to the Florida Times-Union, a Terry Parker High School student has been charged with bringing a gun to the school campus. The charge came after an anonymous tip that the student was trying to sell a gun at the school. The school resource officer removed the student from his class, after which the gun fell out of the student’s pants leg.

Jacksonville juvenile crimes cases typically involve a child who is either abused, neglected, or needs to feel like they have the attention of those who would not normally give a glance towards that child. No matter what the particular circumstance, the accused typically either has a score to settle or has a message to be heard. However, should the child be punished severely for an immature statement?

Under Florida Statute 790.115, possession of a firearm at a school or at any school sanctioned event or property of the public school system is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. This would seem like a smaller charge that the State would want to plea down and move on with, however, this may not be the case.

The State Attorney’s office has a very tough stance on crimes that are gun related. Particularly if a gun is brandished, the State will most likely not file tougher charges against the accused, but will also not be willing to settle. These actions are the result of the increase of gun crimes and Florida, which these crimes are now facing a backlash from the State.

In this case, the student told the school resource officer that he had found the gun near his home and just decided to bring it with him to school, without any other reason behind it. In situations like this, the legal system has left open a dilemma that should not exist. Here we have a child who through immaturity or other factors, has not thought about his actions and decided to go to school with a weapon. However, when that child goes before a Judge, that immaturity may not be considered.

If one or one’s child has been accused of such a crime, one should contact an experienced Jacksonville gun crimes attorney to fight for one’s case ensure one’s rights and future outside of prison is protected. In a situation like this, one should not take a chance with a Judge who does not know one’s case and know all of the mitigating factors that might lessen one’s sentence.

In this case, if one obtained an experienced attorney, one’s attorney could bring to light one’s lack of thinking and immaturity, which may show the Judge that one had no intent to commit a violent crime, and therefore, lessen the sentence to a probationary judgment or withhold of adjudication. One should not face bars at the dawn of one’s life. One should be free.

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Jacksonville’s youth, particularly those who are disadvantaged mentally, do things that are violent and offensive. However, just because they have done something of this nature does not mean that they intentionally did it, nor does it mean that they are bad children. If one’s child has been charged with an offense such as this, one should contact an experienced attorney to fight for one’s case.

An eleven-year-old New Port Richey special education student lit a middle school child’s pants and arm with an aerosol can, the Florida-Times Union reports. The special education student lit a body spray stream on fire and aimed for the victim in the boy’s bathroom at the school. The offending child has been subsequently charged with aggravated battery.

Jacksonville juvenile crimes cases tend to air on the side of the intentional, as most cases involve a teenager who commits a crime such as a battery or other type of offense such as criminal mischief. However, occasionally, intent can have major pull on whether the offense charged will be the offense the juvenile is convicted of.

The accused child in this case has been charged with aggravated battery which is a second degree felony under Florida Statute 784.045. For a person to be convicted of the crime, one must have intentionally or knowingly caused great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disability, or uses a deadly weapon. The statutory language will play a great role in whether this child will be convicted of the crime he was charged with, even more so in the plea deal that the State will most likely offer the child.

Some of our city’s mentally disabled children do not understand the consequence s of their actions. This lack of understanding allows for an experienced Jacksonville attorney to provide a defense to a child like this’ actions. In this particular case, an experienced attorney could argue that the child did not understand that the make-shift torch he created could cause bodily harm.

Further, under 784.045, permanent bodily harm or permanent disfigurement is required. In this particular case, the child that was hurt did not suffer permanent bodily harm or disfigurement from what can be gleaned from the article. What can be discerned is that the child’s pants caught fire and the child’s arm hair was singed off. Even though the child’s burns are unfortunate, the fact is that the child’s hair will grow back and no permanent damage was done.

Finally, under 784.045, if permanent bodily harm or permanent disfigurement is not satisfied, then the battery must have occurred with a deadly weapon. This may be a slight bit tougher for the attorney to beat, but may still be able to be beaten nevertheless. An attorney could make the argument that the lighter and aerosol can by themselves are not deadly weapons, and if the court allows this child to be found guilty because they believe the make-shift torch to be deadly weapon, then the court would be walking down a slippery slope to allowing pens or other objects to be considered deadly weapons when their common purpose is contrary to what they are being called.

Many times, the State Attorney’s Office will see a case like this as an easy every-day case to walk through and be done with, and will charge it as such. However, this is a mentally disabled child that they are dealing with. That child has rights that should be protected. An experienced Jacksonville juvenile crimes attorney can and will protect those rights.

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Jacksonville’s youth have some of the brightest futures in the world. However, on the road to the future, some children suffer setbacks that can severely hinder their ability to progress. However, this does not mean that the legal system should hold them back as well. If one’s child has been charged with juvenile sex abuse, one should contact an experienced attorney to fight for one’s case.

According to The Boston Globe, children have become more prone to sexual violence in their early youth, mostly from adults; however, there is a growing number of child sexual abuse cases growing in Jacksonville as well as other cities that are solely child-on-child sexual abuse cases. One of the more well-known Jacksonville juvenile crimes case involving sexual abuse is that of Cristian Fernandez, who was recently indicted for the sexual battery of his 5 year old half brother.

Many state legislatures have had to think up new statutes and punishments for this budding problem. However, a problem has erupted from this new debate about what to do with these children: How does the legislature identify the problem children who will be prone to be repeat offenders, and how do they identify the children who are unlikely to re-offend?

Studies have been done that show that a staggering majority of these childhood offenders do not actually re-offend. Most of these children do these acts of sexual misconduct simply out of peer-pressure or curiosity.

However, the legislature, the legal system, and the Judges who have the unfortunate responsibility of sentencing these children to punishments for their actions, cannot always look at each cases very particular facts. Many times, Judges are worried about some of these children repeating these kinds of behavior as adults. However, this does not mean that every child is doomed to harsh punishment. These children need an intermediary; these children need an advocate.

When a child in a situation like this has been accused of sexually abusing another child, the parent of that child should contact an experienced Jacksonville juvenile crimes attorney to fight for these children’s rights. These youth need help, not a jail cell or a sex offender registry listing to scar them the rest of their lives. They need to be able to move into recovery and get back on the path to that bright future that society wants so badly for them to have.

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Jacksonville’s juveniles can have some extreme thoughts about obtaining what they want. Even though the actions juveniles choose are most of the time non-violent, sometimes the results of those non-violent actions can be deadly to the juvenile. When this happens, one should contact an experienced Jacksonville juvenile crimes attorney to mount the best defense possible for their deceased love one.

According to the Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville police gunned down a 17 year-old who held up a West-side convenience store with a fake gun. The 17 year-old, Craig Ruise, was shot by two officers after the teen was said to have been holding the store up at gun point at around 3am.

Jacksonville juvenile cases can be quite difficult to deal with, and as this case in particular shows, juvenile cases can be quite heart-breaking. Ruise was carrying a plastic Colt 1911 handgun, which police mistook for a real gun, as it was painted black. The police shouted for Ruise to drop the weapon, which when Ruise failed to do so, the police officers shot him.

Jacksonville police actions have been scrutinized for many years, and for good reason. Many people from Jacksonville have had run-ins with the police that could have ended very differently, had the actions of that officer or set of officers been more thought out.

Many law enforcement officials, when considering facts similar to Ruise’s unfortunate case, will say, like Jacksonville police’s Chief Hackney said, that the police responded in the proper manner. However, police do not often consider without a superior suggesting it, that alternative methods of subduing suspects could and should be used.

Jacksonville police have at their disposal the ability to tase, bean-bag, or at least partially wound a suspect without fatally wounding them. However, most police officers, when put under the pressure, will react at the first remedial measure available: a gun.

The actions of some police officers tend to be just assumed right and the actions of the accused or deceased assumed completely wrong. However, in many situations, the police officer’s actions should be more scrutinized, specifically those cases with fatal consequences.

Many gun cases are similar to Ruise’s, even those that are not fatal. Most tend to be cases where the accused was not given time to put down the weapon, the police thought that the accused was acting in a way that seemed threatening, or the police felt that the problem of the accused needed to be dealt with more aggressively. Whatever the case, the accused in these cases tends to suffer at the hands of the police rather than the hands of the judicial system.

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