There was a recent piece that ran on NPR about the disproportionate amount of African Americans youths that are being arrested as juveniles in Orange County. In a story entitled “In Prison by Sixteen”, it was revealed that Orange County has the most juvenile arrests in Florida for the last three years. Almost all of those are crimes that have been charged as felonies and African-American boys between 12 and 16 make up most of the defendants.

Juveniles Can Face Heavy Penalties

There is a real problem with the juvenile justice system and many cases are resulting in direct files. This means that a juvenile defendant can be tried as an adult and end up serving long sentences well into their adult years.

The story discussed the fact that county officials need to focus on preventative measures and more compassionate sentences for nonviolent crimes like drug offenses. Rehabilitation combined with options like military style boot camps can turn a kid around early in the juvenile justice process.

Public Defenders are Overwhelmed

Far too often these cases are assigned to public defenders that have large case dockets and might not have the time or resources to spend on a vigilant defense. Witnesses need to be interviewed, private investigators might need to be hired, and a jury trial might have to be conducted to make sure justice is being served. Normally juvenile defendants are not entitled to a jury trial. However, in very rare instances, it may be in a child’s best interests to have an attorney willing to seek a jury trial on behalf of his client. Hiring an attorney for these very serious juvenile crimes makes sense and is worth the investment.

Adam Pollack is a Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer and has handled many juvenile cases and understands to challenges that these communities face in keeping young men out of prison. Call him today for a FREE consultation at (407) 834-5297

Here is a link to the article and you can also access the larger piece that is entitled “Young and Arrested”:

In Prison By Sixteen