Articles Posted in Juvenile crimes

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution offers people protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. Broadly speaking, this means that law enforcement officials must have a warrant to conduct a search. Fourth Amendment protections are critical to safeguarding individual privacy and preventing government abuse of power. There are exceptions to the general rule, however, such as when an officer has reasonable suspicion that a person is committing a crime. Recently, a Florida court addressed what constitutes adequate suspicion of a crime to conduct a warrantless search in a case in which a juvenile appealed his firearms offense convictions. If you are a juvenile charged with a criminal offense, it is in your best interest to talk to a  Sarasota juvenile crime defense attorney about your rights.

The Stop and Arrest

It is reported that a police officer stopped the defendant because he was riding a bicycle at night without lights on. The defendant had a jacket over his left shoulder, and the officer believed that his nervousness and shakiness gave him the impression that there was possibly a weapon in his waistband.

Allegedly, the officer asked to conduct a pat down, and the defendant declined. The officer ultimately found a firearm in the defendant’s groin area. The defendant was charged with multiple firearm defenses. Prior to his hearing, he moved to suppress any evidence found during the stop on the grounds that the officer lacked the necessary suspicion to conduct a weapons pat down. The trial court denied the motion to suppress, and the defendant was adjudicated delinquent. He appealed.

Reasonable Suspicion to Conduct a Weapons Pat Down

In reviewing the denial of the motion to suppress, the court determined whether competent and substantial evidence supported the trial court’s factual findings and reviewed the trial court’s application of the law to the facts. Ultimately, the court found that the issuance of a citation for failing to have a bicycle light would not ordinarily validate a weapons frisk. As such, the officer must have some information indicating that the detainee poses a threat to the officer’s safety or to the safety of others.

In other words, for a weapons pat-down search to be valid, the officer must identify objective facts indicating that the person detained is armed and dangerous. The court noted that while the combination of the defendant’s nervousness and the officer’s observation of a bulge in the defendant’s clothing could justify a weapons pat-down, the arresting officer’s testimony did not support a reasonable suspicion of danger in the subject case.

Specifically, the officer did not observe a weapon or see a bulge in the defendant’s pants. Additionally, the arresting officer had no idea whether the firearm had been in the defendant’s groin area the whole time. Thus, the court concluded that the trial court erred in denying the defendant’s motion to suppress, as the arresting officer lacked the necessary suspicion to conduct a weapons pat down, and reversed the trial court order.

Confer with a Skilled Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorney

A juvenile conviction for a weapons offense can negatively impact a person’s life long after the sentence imposed is complete. If you are a minor charged with a gun crime or any other offense, it is wise to confer with an attorney about your potential defenses as soon as possible. The skilled Sarasota criminal defense lawyers of Hanlon Law have ample experience helping minors protect their rights in juvenile proceedings, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can contact Hanlon Law through the online form or by calling 941-462-1789 to set up a conference.

Continue Reading ›

The criminal justice system treats and prosecutes juvenile offenders differently than adults. Typically, a court that handles a juvenile matter retains jurisdiction over the case until the child reaches a certain age, but the duration of the jurisdiction varies depending on the offense for which the minor was convicted. A court’s continuing jurisdiction over juvenile matters was the topic of a recent ruling set forth by a Florida court in a case in which a juvenile defendant allegedly violated the terms of his probation. If you are a minor charged with a criminal offense, it is in your best interest to confer with a trusted Sarasota criminal defense attorney regarding your rights.

The Defendant’s Convictions

Allegedly, the defendant was convicted of three different crimes when he was a juvenile. He was sentenced to probation for each crime. The 2015 conviction was for lascivious and lewd conduct by a person under 18, and the 2016 and 2018 convictions were for battery crimes. In 2020, he appeared before the court for a violation of probation hearing on all three cases. The alleged violation was his failure to complete sex-offender counseling for his 2015 conviction. The defendant argued that the court no longer had jurisdiction over the 2016 and 2017 matters and asked the court to dismiss those cases. The court rejected the defendant’s argument, after which he appealed.

Continuing Jurisdiction Over a Juvenile Case

Under Florida law, a juvenile court’s jurisdiction is limited to that indicated by statute. Specifically, the court has original jurisdiction over matters where the child violates the law. Jurisdiction attaches to both the case and the child, and the court may control the child and the case pursuant to the statute. Although there are exceptions, a court will retain jurisdiction over a matter until a child turns 19. One of the exceptions involves juvenile sexual offenders who have been ordered to attend community-based treatment or who have been placed in a treatment facility, in which case jurisdiction will extend until the minor turns 21.

Continue Reading ›

Juvenile residents of Florida may be charged with sex crimes, and although they are generally treated with more leniency than adult defendants, they may still face significant penalties if they are convicted. For example, if a juvenile defendant is convicted of a sex crime, in certain cases, he or she may be required to register as a sex offender. The District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District, recently explained the grounds for imposing a sex offender registration requirement on a juvenile, in a case in which the defendant allegedly violated the terms of his probation following a conviction for a sex crime. If you are a minor living in Sarasota and are charged with a sex crime it is imperative to meet with a knowledgeable Sarasota sex crime defense attorney regarding the potential penalties you face and what defenses are available to help you avoid a conviction.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the defendant was deemed delinquent for violating the terms of his probation, following a conviction for the lascivious or lewd molestation of a victim who was less than twelve years old. During the violation of probation hearing the court imposed a sex offender registration requirement on the defendant. The defendant subsequently appealed, arguing that the court erred in imposing the requirement. Specifically, he argued that the registration requirement was based on factual findings that were not made by the original sentencing judge and were therefore improper.

Sex Offender Registration Requirement

Under the Florida statute pertaining to the registration of sex offenders, a person will be deemed a sex offender if he or she has been adjudicated delinquent for committing one of the enumerated sex crimes if he or she was fourteen years old or older at the time of the offense. One of the crimes that require a person to register as a sex offender is lascivious or lewd molestation, if the court finds the molestation involved unclothed genitalia.

Continue Reading ›

The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects a criminal defendant who is convicted of a crime from cruel and unusual punishment. The Constitution does not define cruel and unusual punishment, however, so the courts have been tasked with interpreting whether a sentence is barred by the Eighth Amendment. In cases involving juvenile homicide offenders, the Florida courts have held that a sentence that does not provide a meaningful chance for release are improper under the Eighth Amendment.

Recently, a Florida appellate court scrutinized whether a sentence of life in prison with judicial review after 25 years was cruel and unusual punishment, ultimately ruling that it was not. If you are charged with a violent crime in Sarasota, it is essential to retain a skillful Sarasota criminal defense attorney to assist you in formulating a defense.

The Defendant’s Conviction and Sentence

Reportedly, the defendant was convicted of first-degree murder in 1985, for a crime he committed when he was a juvenile. He was first sentenced to life in prison with a possibility of parole after twenty-five years. In 2016, he moved for post-conviction relief in the form of resentencing, arguing that his sentence violated the Eighth Amendment. Following a hearing, he was resentenced to life in prison with judicial review after twenty-five years. The defendant subsequently appealed the new sentence. On appeal, the court affirmed.

Continue Reading ›

Contact Information