Teenage gun crimes are on the increase in Central Florida, and a growing number of Orlando area youth are facing juvenile weapons possession charges. A juvenile arrested on gun charges in Florida can face serious consequences and should be represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney.
With few exceptions, it’s against the law in Florida for anyone under 18 to possess a firearm, and you, as a parent, may be penalized for your child’s illegal gun possession. Under Florida gun laws, the name of a minor can be made public. To protect your child’s future and limit your legal exposure call 407-644-2466 for a free consultation with an experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney.
Juvenile gun possession, according to Florida Statute 790.22(3), is a first-degree misdemeanor. If it’s a first offense, there’s a mandatory sentence of 100 hours of community service, but the judge may also sentence an offender to up to 3 days at a “secure detention facility.” For juveniles arrested on gun possession charges in Orange, Osceola, or Seminole County, that means an unpleasant 72-hour stay at the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center on Bumby Avenue in South Orlando.
Repeat offenders can be charged with a third-degree felony, with a minimum of 15 days in a detention center and up to 250 hours of community service. In addition, juveniles convicted of gun possession charges can lose their drivers license for a year.
Penalties for firearm possession are harsh for a juvenile who has already had a brush with the law. A minor may be charged as an adult with a second-degree felony, which is quite serious because there is the possibility of a lengthy prison term. And charging a juvenile as an adult is not unlikely – Florida transfers more children to adult court than any other state.
There are also enhanced penalties (longer sentences) for juveniles who commit a crime while in possession of a firearm, or if the crime is a gang-related offense.
If you are a parent or guardian of a child charged with illegal gun possession, the judge may require you to attend parent education classes, and if it’s a repeat offense, you may be required to do community service with the offender as well. That’s for a juvenile who got caught with a gun that you didn’t know about. If it’s determined that you knowingly allowed your child or a minor under your care to have a gun, you can be charged with a third-degree felony, which carries a sentence of up to five years in prison.
Under Florida’s Safe Storage law, anyone who negligently allows a minor (a child under 16) to have access to a gun may be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. And if the minor injures or kills someone, even by accident, a parent may be held criminally liable.
A parent or guardian can also face second-degree misdemeanor charges, punishable by up to 60 days in jail if a minor in their care is in possession of a BB gun or pellet gun.
Technically, a juvenile lawbreaker is not arrested, but “taken into custody.” If your child is taken into custody in Orange or Seminole County, they’ll likely be taken to a Detention Screeners Center, where social service workers will do an assessment to decide whether your child gets to go home with a parent pending court action, gets a supervised release, or should be held in a detention center for a court hearing.
The law says that a youth may not be held in detention care for more than 24 hours without a
hearing. You should talk to a juvenile crimes attorney as soon as possible, but it can be especially important to have a lawyer at the Detention Hearing. At this hearing, a judge reviews the case to make sure the police had sufficient probable cause to take a juvenile into custody, and whether the offender can be released or remain in custody. An experienced juvenile court attorney can challenge the validity of the charges, advise on how to plead, and ask that the offender be released from detention pending a trial.
Experts say the best thing to do when a minor child is arrested is to get a good lawyer involved as quickly as possible. According to researchers, “successful outcomes are influenced by a family’s ability to retain effective counsel early-on and retain them until a permanent resolution to all aspects of the legal matter is resolved.”
In other words, when your son or daughter is arrested, the best chance for them to start out as an adult with a clean record is to hire the best juvenile justice lawyer you can as quickly as possible. The Rivas Law Firm represents juveniles charged with misdemeanor possession of a firearm and more serious offenses for armed robbery, armed burglary, and aggravated assault with a firearm. If you’re looking for a lawyer for juvenile gun charges, consider the Rivas Law Firm, experienced courtroom fighters with a passion for justice. Call 407-644-2466 for a free consultation.