Can a minor be charged with a crime or is it something different?

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Criminal Law

Some similarities to adult criminal court exist. These include certain rights, including the right to be represented by an attorney, the right to be considered innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and the right to testify on their own behalf or to remain silent. Other similarities is that the child may be put on probation, fined, given community service, and, in more serious cases, be placed in detention.

An important difference between adult criminal law and juvenile delinquency law is the purpose it serves. The purpose of adult criminal court is to punish. The purpose of juvenile delinquency court is not only to punish, but to attempt to rehabilitate the child. As such, there is another difference in the number of parties involved. In adult court, there is usually only the State, the Judge, and the Defendant. In juvenile court, the Department of Juvenile Justice is almost always also involved. They often will make a recommendation to the Judge as to how to sentence a juvenile, and these recommendations carry a lot of weight with the Judge.

There are, in general, there are two circumstances when a child who has broken a criminal law does not go to Juvenile Court. The first, and less serious, is when the child commits a misdemeanor traffic violation. Common examples of this are reckless driving and driving with license suspended or revoked. The child is then in adult criminal traffic court. The second scenario is much more serious. Depending on the child’s age and the seriousness of the law that is broken, the child may be tried in adult felony court. This is done in cases where the State of Florida has elected to “direct file” on the child.


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