Teenagers are notorious for having poor decision-making skills. After all, their brains are still growing, and the part responsible for understanding consequences will not fully mature until later in life. Teenagers often act impulsively, and while they know right from wrong, they may not fully consider the impact of their actions.
While science understands that teenagers have poor impulse control and may not understand the consequences of their actions, the criminal court system does not give teenagers the same benefit of the doubt. Young adults who choose to take a motor vehicle that does not belong to them without permission and drive it for fun could face serious criminal penalties. In some cases, they could even end up tried in adult court.
Joy rides can actually result in a lot of pain for all involved
Taking a vehicle out for a joyride is not a rite of passage. In fact, it may constitute grand theft under Florida law. When teenagers take a vehicle that does not belong to them and drive it for some distance before abandoning or returning the vehicle, the owner is deprived of their right to use that vehicle.
More importantly, the teenagers involved have used a personal item belonging to someone else for their own purposes without consent or permission from the owner. Depending on the value of the vehicle and what happens on that ride, the consequences could be severe.
In fact, it is increasingly common for minors accused of serious crimes, such as grand theft related to a motor vehicle, to face charges in adult court instead of juvenile court. Even if it is a juvenile offense, a felony conviction could haunt a young offender for life.
There are usually alternative options available
For young adults facing their first criminal offense, it may be possible for them to avoid a conviction. In other cases, it may be possible to have a conviction removed from the minor’s record when they turn 18, provided that they do not wind up in any more legal trouble.
If substance abuse or peer pressure played a role in the criminal activity, that can provide grounds for a defense and potentially allow for some form of diversion, such as to counseling or substance abuse education programs.
For parents whose children are facing serious criminal charges related to a joyride in someone else’s vehicle, it is important to prioritize the future of your accused child when making decisions about how to proceed. Mounting a strong defense or attempting to keep your child out of criminal court is often the best option. Depending on the circumstances of your case, there may be many potential ways to approach the situation that do not result in juvenile theft charges leading to the criminal conviction of your teenager.