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Under Florida law any defendant who is alleged to have committed a crime before the age of 21 may be sentenced as a youthful offender. The youthful offender law only applies to cases in adult court, and there is no minimum age. If your child or young adult is facing charges in any Florida circuit court, contact a lawyer to find out if a youthful offender sentence is an option. Youthful offender or YO programs are available to juveniles whose cases have been direct filed, and young adults who were charged after their 18th birthday but before turning 21. A juvenile or young adult can only be granted youthful offender status one time, and it is not available for life felonies. Benjamin Herbst is a South Florida criminal defense lawyer with extensive experience in youthful offender cases. He specializes in representing juveniles and young adults who are charged with felonies in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County. He also represents clients who have been charged in Martin and St. Lucie County, and is available 7 days a week for a free consultation at (954) 543-0305. Benjamin has flexible office hours at his Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach locations, and can also travel anywhere from Homestead to Port St. Lucie to meet in person at a more convenient location. Contact Benjamin today to find out if your child or young adult may be eligible for a Florida youthful offender sentence.
The main benefit of the youthful offender program in Florida is that the maximum penalty the judge can impose will is 6 years rather than the statutory maximum, which is usually much higher. A youthful offender can be sentenced to incarceration, placed on probation or given a split sentence. The maximum amount of incarceration or probation a judge can impose is 6 years, or 5 for a third-degree felony. A split sentence is a combination of jail time followed by probation or community control. If a judge decides on a split sentence the youthful offender may not receive more than 4 years of incarceration. Any YO who is sentenced to incarceration may file a motion file for a suspension of the sentence within 60 days. If granted, the defendant will be released from custody and placed on probation. Benjamin has filed numerous successful motions for reduction and suspension of sentences in Florida.
In the most serious offenses, a judge who grants youthful offender status may order 4 years of incarceration followed by 2 years of community control. Youthful offenders are routinely sent to boot camps or basic training facilities to serve their term of incarceration. These camps can last from 120 days to over a year, and have strict requirements such as dress codes, marching drills, physical training, manual labor, education programs and drug counseling. Violations can result in 30-day confinement, and continued failure to abide by the rules can lead to expulsion from the program. Any YO who is expelled from the camp will be forced to serve the remainder of their incarceration in general population prison. Once released from incarceration, a youthful offender must successfully complete probation or community control. Any violation of probation or community control, no matter how minor, could result in revocation of youthful offender status and incarceration up to the statutory maximum. The 6-year maximum no longer applies to violations of probation and community control. Benjamin is a Florida violation of probation lawyer, who represents juveniles and youthful offenders in VOP hearings.
The main goal for any juvenile or young adult defendant is to keep their record clean and keep them out of jail. It is obviously best to advocate for juvenile sanctions if the defendant is eligible, but arguing for youthful offender treatment is the next best thing. Juveniles and young adults who are sentenced as youthful offenders will be able to avoid going to an adult prison facility, and being exposed to all the criminal activity at these places. In addition, judges often withhold adjudication in youthful offender cases, and give the juvenile or young adult one chance to preserve his or her future. Receiving youthful offender treatment is never a guarantee, and the defendant and the lawyer must be thoroughly prepared at sentencing. Benjamin Herbst fights to preserve the futures of all juvenile and young adult defendants in Florida, and he is standing by to fight for your child. He specializes in youthful offender cases, and can explain if your child or young adult may be eligible, and benefit from arguing for YO status.