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17-year-old charged in school burglary

Anyone who survived their teenage years knows that bad decisions are part of the experience. Peer pressure, thrill seeking and falling in with the wrong crowd can lead teens to make poor choices - including juvenile crimes. Because adults know that teenagers lack the capacity for mature judgment, Florida has a separate juvenile law system, focused on rehabilitation, for minors who are charged with a crime.

A 17-year-old from Port Richey may be confronting this system now - if he has been fortunate enough to stay out of adult court. The teenager was arrested and charged with burglary and selling stolen goods - both felonies. A witness told sheriff's deputies the young man sold him an Apple notebook computer for $200. According to Pasco County Sheriff's Office allegations, the computer was stolen from a local high school.

The sheriff's office believes a group of at least six people has conducted several burglaries of local high schools, middle schools and elementary schools over a period of several months. Authorities say the group mainly went after Apple products. The group also faces accusations of property damage at the schools. Two other teenagers, one 17 and one 19, were arrested previously.

When a teenager is accused of a serious crime the first priority of the defense is to fight any attempt to have the juvenile charged as an adult. A hearing is conducted within 24 hours of the arrest to determine where the case should be heard. If the case can be kept in the juvenile system, defense counsel can argue for alternative sentencing, such as drug treatment or probation.

Source: Tampa Tribune, "Third teen charged in Pasco school burglaries," April 2, 2013

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Andrew M. Coffey has been recognized as a Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer by the Florida Bar. Certification is the highest level of recognition by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida.

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