Yes, A Minor Can Be Charged As An Adult For Drug Crimes
Florida holds the record for the most draconian sentence ever handed down to a child. In 2001, a judge sentenced Lionel Tate, who was 13 at the time, to life in prison without the possibility of parole. When Tate was 12 years old, he had fatally injured a 6-year-old neighbor. It was obvious to the jury that Tate had not intended to kill the victim; he had argued that he and the victim were playfully wrestling, and he accidentally injured her, but because of a legal doctrine called the felony murder rule, the jury was required to convict him of first-degree murder. Three years later, his conviction was overturned, and he served a sentence of house arrest and probation, only to be sentenced to another prison term for a probation violation, but Florida law still does not go out of its way to be lenient with anyone because of their young age. Even for cases that do not involve a victim’s death, it is still possible for Florida courts to hand down harsh sentences to minors. If your teenage child is being charged with a felony drug offense, they could be tried as an adult and receive a prison sentence; the best way to avoid this outcome is to work with a Florida drug offense attorney.
Once an Adult, Always an Adult
Most states allow people younger than 17 to be charged as adults in some circumstances, and Florida puts kids at the mercy of the courts even more than most other states do. Here are some highlights of Florida’s laws on trying juveniles as adults, especially where drug crimes are involved:
- Florida allows judges to transfer juvenile defendants to adult court at the judge’s discretion; there is no minimum age for this. In other words, if a third grader gets caught selling weed to classmates, the court can try her as an adult if the judge thinks this is appropriate.
- Florida courts can immediately charge teens ages 16 and older as adults in drug trafficking cases if a firearm was present at the scene of the crime; they do not need to go through the juvenile court first.
- Florida follows the “once an adult, always an adult” rule; this means that, if a minor has previously been tried as an adult, then they will be tried as an adult again for subsequent charges, no matter how minor. For example, if you got tried as an adult for burglary when you were 15 and you get arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia at age 16, the court must charge you as an adult for the paraphernalia case.
In other words, no matter how young your child is, you should always hire a lawyer if your child is being charged with a drug offense.[JT1]
Contact FL Drug Defense Group About Minors Accused of Drug Crimes
A Central Florida criminal defense lawyer can help you if your child, no matter how young, is being charged with a drug-related offense. Contact FL Drug Defense Group in Orlando, Florida to discuss your case.