Florida Court Explains Continuing Jurisdiction Over a Juvenile Criminal Case

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.

In the subject case, the court found that a plain reading of the statute required the conclusion that the juvenile court lacked jurisdiction over the 2016 and 2018 battery cases, and therefore those cases must be dismissed. The court explained that while the statute permitted a court to retain jurisdiction over a sexual offense case and additional sex crimes that are filed in that case until the child turns 21, a court cannot retain jurisdiction over unrelated cases. The court noted that the 2016 and 2018 offenses were not filed with the 2015 charge. Thus, they were different, unrelated cases, and the court could not retain jurisdiction over them.

Speak to a Trusted Florida Attorney Experienced in Defending Minors

Juvenile offenders have numerous rights, and it is critical for any minor charged with a crime to retain experienced legal counsel. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a trusted Sarasota attorney adept at defending minors, and if you retain his services, he will advocate tirelessly on your behalf.  You can reach Mr. Hanlon at 941-462-1789 or through the form online to set up a conference.

Is there more than one way to get my case dismissed?

Yes. There are several ways your case can end up getting dismissed. First, of course, is the level of proof the prosecution may have against you. The prosecution may not have enough evidence to prove your guilt. When you sit down for a consultation with your lawyer he/she should be able to give a very good idea how powerful the prosecutor’s case might be. Second, there could be police misconduct involved in your case that could lead to a pretrial motion that could severely damage the prosecutor’s case or lead to a reduction of the charge. The police violate the defendant's rights every day. They might violate your right to privacy by conducting an unlawful search or seizure. The police could violate your right to remain silent or right to counsel by taking your statement without proper notice of your Fifth Amendment rights. It is important to understand that a violation of your Fifth Amendment rights will only lead to a dismissal of your case when proving the criminal charge against you hinges on the admission of that statement into evidence. Some criminal charges can be proven without the use of your statement to police. While these two methods can bring about a dismissal of your criminal charge there are other approaches to bring about the same result. In order to find out whether your case involves facts that could lead to a dismissal you should contact the office of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

How do I pay my criminal defense attorney?

All criminal defense attorneys typically work on an up-front flat fee basis. How much will it cost to defend you? That will depend on the nature of the criminal charge and the complexities involved in resolving it. Your attorney’s level of experience will also be a factor used to determine the fee.

How much does my past have to do with the type of offer the prosecutor will make in my case?

Your past has a lot to do with the type of offer a prosecutor will make in your case. Do you have a criminal record? Have you been a contributing member of society? Even if you do have a criminal past have you taken steps to change your life? Did you struggle with an addiction of some type during the commission of the offense? A very important aspect of criminal defense is giving perspective to your client’s behavior. It is important for the prosecutor to understand that my client is a person. I do that by spending the time necessary to understand my client’s past and any struggles they endured before they were arrested. It is critical to personalize your client.

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