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When can my child be tried as an adult?

Finding out that your child has been charged with a crime can be incredibly painful. You’ve worked hard to raise your kids, and you never expected something like this. You might know that they are innocent, but you might also worry about whether anyone else is going to believe that.

You might have heard the phrase “trial as an adult” before and worry that your child might be the next case. This would mean that your child’s record would be publicly available, and they would face harsher penalties. There are two questions that determine where your child’s case goes.

What are the charges?

Under Florida law, certain felonies can lead to your child’s case going to criminal court instead of juvenile court. These include:

  • Murder or manslaughter
  • Kidnapping
  • Arson
  • Armed robbery
  • Carjacking

Your child must be 14 or older for this rule to apply. In the case of these and other felonies, the state attorney has the option to file in criminal court. Crimes that do not appear in this statute—such as drug crimes—will remain in juvenile court.

Is there a criminal history?

If your child is charged with one of the above crimes and it isn’t their first offense, there are two ways that the case could end up in criminal court. The previous act must also be a felony, and your child’s age also affects the process.

If your child is 16 or 17 years old, Florida law requires the state attorney to try your child as an adult. If they are only 14 or 15, the state attorney instead has the option to ask the judge to transfer the case to juvenile court. How your child is tried is then at the judge's discretion.

You want the best for your child in all situations—especially when their future is at stake. Understanding your child’s options is one step toward achieving the best possible outcome for your child.

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McIntosh Law
766 Hudson Avenue
Suite B
Sarasota, FL 34236

Toll Free: 866-943-0466
Phone: 941-306-3230
Fax: 941-957-0706
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