Defending Minors and Young Adults
St. Petersburg Attorney Representing Children Accused of Sex Crimes According to Human Rights Watch, more than 12,000 children in Florida were moved from the juvenile to the adult court system between 2009 and 2014. More than half of these kids were charged with nonviolent crimes. Most of the children who are moved are moved because prosecutors have the discretion to move a case from juvenile to adult court without a judge's input. Florida has a higher transfer rate than any other state in the country. If you are a parent of a child who has been charged with a sex crime like lewd and lascivious conduct, you should retain St. Petersburg sex crime lawyer Will Hanlon, who has substantial experience defending minors and young adults.Defending Minors and Young Adults
Prosecutors sometimes use the threat of bringing a charge in adult court to secure a guilty plea. However, many studies show that children are still developing mentally and emotionally, often until they turn 25. They can be rehabilitated. Unfortunately, when they are charged with a sex crime, however, they face the possibility of severe punishment rather than rehabilitation.
If you are a child who has been accused of a crime, or a parent of a child who has been accused, you should retain an experienced attorney to mount the strongest possible defense under the circumstances. Often, there are both procedural and substantive arguments available, or there may be a basis to negotiate a guilty plea to a lesser charge.
For example, a child may not understand the consequences of creating or posting explicit images. A single incident involving what seems to be consensual activity could result in lewd and lascivious molestation charges or child pornography charges. These are charges that require a convicted defendant to register as a sex offender for the rest of their life.
However, there may be a basis to negotiate to have these charges reduced to child abuse or sexting, depending on the situation. These are crimes that do not require registration as a sex offender. An initial sexting charge is a noncriminal violation. A minor will be required to complete eight hours of community service, pay a $60 civil penalty, or be involved in a cybersafety program for a first violation.
In other situations, there simply is not enough evidence supporting each element of the offense for the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. For example, in a sexual assault case, it may be possible to show that the victim is not credible or has motives for making a false allegation. It may be possible to raise affirmative defenses such as entrapment if the charges involve luring or traveling to meet a minor. In other cases, there may be flaws in how the police obtained evidence, and these can give rise to a successful motion to suppress evidence.
An important goal is to avoid being convicted of a sex crime that requires registration as a sex offender. Under Florida Statute section 943.04354, also known as the Romeo and Juliet law, certain offenders who meet particular criteria can petition the court to remove the requirement to register as a sex offender. The criteria include that the victim was 13-17 and no more than four years younger than the offender and that the sex was consensual. Another requirement is that the offense at issue is the only sex crime on the offender's record that required them to register.Hire a St. Petersburg Attorney to Represent Your Child Against the Prosecution
If you are looking for a lawyer with experience defending minors and young adults in St. Petersburg, you should contact Hanlon Law. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been providing criminal defense representation since 1994, and he is ready to fight vigorously to protect your child’s future. You can call Hanlon Law at 727.289.0222 or submit our online form for an appointment with a criminal lawyer.