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No, juveniles are not adults: criminal law ramifications

| Apr 20, 2021 | Criminal Law |

As a Florida parent, you likely revel in the many upsides you see that progressively mark your children as they continue their steady march from adolescence toward adulthood. Legions of moms and dads note attributes that bode well for the future – growing self-confidence, increased social skills, empathy, positive goal-minded behavior and other pluses.

Those are all obviously exciting developments, and they punctuate a ready potential geared toward life success.

Yet they don’t lack for challenges. Parents intuitively know that, because they too were once kids. Fully grown adult behavior cannot reasonably be expected of children. After all, they are … children.

And that means this: Even the most mature juvenile is somewhat susceptible to peer pressure. It’s a flat truism that kids will sometimes make mistakes by erring in judgment or committing to rash behavior that can only be seen as foolhardy in retrospect. Life is about learning, with a prime catalyst for that being the youthful misjudgments that are all but inevitable for young people.

This inquiry might reasonably be posed here: Should juveniles be punished for their mistakes?

More specifically, should they be subjected to the formal exactions of Florida’s juvenile justice system?

Of course, kids need to be alerted to their errors and tasked with owning up to them in a rehabilitative way. And some juveniles who act in harmful ways do end up interacting closely with criminal law officials.

Arguably, though, a too-quick recourse to justice system imperatives is often far more harmful to a growing young person than it is helpful.

The downsides and lasting negative impact of juvenile arrest

An in-depth and authoritative Florida legal source on juveniles’ interaction with the criminal justice system duly notes that automatic entry into the system following just about any alleged wrongdoing is far from optimal. It stresses that exposure to the system “can be a scary experience for most children.” Moreover, it can lead to school expulsion, curtailed opportunities across a broad spectrum, forced interaction with undesirable individuals, an enduring criminal record and “other negative consequences.”

Safeguarding juveniles’ freedoms and futures

Legions of criminal justice commentators, educators, mental health professionals, reformers and others firmly believe that an alternative to the formalized justice system is much preferred for most juveniles who find themselves facing legal challenges.

A proven and empathetic criminal defense attorney with a deep well of experience diligently representing young offenders can easily confirm that view. As underscored in the above-cited legal source, seasoned legal counsel will work tirelessly “to successfully guide [a minor] through the juvenile justice system and get them on the path toward a fresh start.”

Rehabilitation, not punishment, is clearly the key goal in high numbers of criminal law matters involving juveniles. An experienced legal defense team can help promote that salutary goal.