Whether it is true or not, there is a perception that juveniles today are committing more “adult” crimes than ever before. Faced with the continuing problem of juvenile crimes, authorities too often turn to punishment rather than rehabilitation as the remedy.

A 15-year-old boy in Palm Bay is accused of forcing a 9-year-old boy to perform a sex act. According to police, the younger boy said he was watching television when the teenager entered the room and forced him to perform the act. At some point, the 15-year-old released the 9-year old, who later told a relative what had allegedly happened. The 15-year-old was taken to a juvenile detention facility after his arrest. He is charged with lewd and lascivious molestation.

In Florida, a juvenile can be tried as an adult based on the juvenile’s age and the seriousness of the alleged crime. It is critical for defense counsel to argue for trial in juvenile court. In juvenile court, there is a greater chance of alternative sentencing options, which can give the accused a chance at a new start in life. In the adult system, in contrast, incarceration all too often is the first step in making a career criminal.

Parents of children charged with serious crimes should not give up hope and should do all they can to ensure their child has a chance at rehabilitation. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney is often the best first step. An attorney will work hard to mitigate any possible penalties.

Source: Florida Today, “Police: 15-year-old charged in connection with sex act,” Aug. 9, 2012

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