From shoplifting to marijuana possession to underage drinking, there are a few types of offenses commonly committed by juveniles. Keep reading today’s blog to learn more specifically about the elements of five common juvenile offenses in Florida.
5 Common Offenses Committed by Juveniles
In Florida, petit theft is the lowest level theft offense. If the property stolen is valued at less than $100, the offender commits petit theft of the second degree, which is charged as a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days of jail time and a $500 fine. If the property stolen is valued at $100-$750, the offender commits petit theft of the first degree, which is a first degree misdemeanor that carries up to 1 year’s imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.
Note that an offense that would ordinarily be classified as petit theft in Florida will be bumped up to a first degree misdemeanor if the offender has previously been convicted of any theft offense, and 2 or more previous theft convictions will enhance a petit theft offense up to a felony of the third degree.
Florida also has retail theft laws in place that address shoplifters. The court orders all repeat shoplifters to either pay a fine between $50-$1,000 or perform community service. Further, any person who possesses, uses, or attempts to use an anti-shoplifting device in a retail establishment commits a third degree felony.
Misdemeanor Drug Possession
To charge an individual with drug possession in Florida, the prosecutor must present evidence that the seized material is a controlled substance as defined by Florida law. (Note that this element generally requires scientific analysis by a crime lab). Additionally, the prosecutor must also show that the defendant actually knew or should have known about the illicit nature of the controlled substance and its presence, as well as that the defendant had control over the location and presence of the controlled substance. A prosecutor likely has a more straightforward case if the defendant had the drugs on their body or in a container held by the defendant.
First degree misdemeanor marijuana possession occurs if an individual possesses 20 g marijuana (except for legally possessed medical marijuana), and this is punishable by up to 1 year in jail, plus court costs. A misdemeanor offender with at least 4 prior offenses is subject to 1 year in jail, mandatory treatment, or home detention of up to 1 year, as well as other enhanced penalties.
Some common defenses to fight a misdemeanor drug charge are:
- lack of knowledge that the material was a controlled substance;
- valid prescription from a medical professional;
- entrapment arranged by police;
- Fourth Amendment violation due to unlawful search and seizure;
- use in accordance with Florida's medical marijuana law.
Burglary occurs when an individual enters a dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense inside, unless the premises are at the time open to the public or the defendant is licensed or invited to enter. The act may also constitute burglary if, notwithstanding a licensed or invited entry, they remain inside:
- with the intent to commit an offense therein;
- after permission to remain has been withdrawn, still remain with the intent to commit an offense therein; or
- commit or attempt to commit a forcible felony.
A burglary crime is punishable according to the following:
- Third Degree Felony - imprisonment for up to 5 years and a fine of up to $5,000
- Second Degree Felony - maximum of imprisonment for 15 years and a fine of $10,000
- First Degree Felony - up to life imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000
Common defenses against a burglary charge include:
- the owner consented to the defendant's entry or presence on the property;
- premises were open to the public at the time;
- defendant lacked intent to commit a crime.
Anyone under the age of 21 is legally prohibited from possessing or purchasing alcohol in Florida. A first-time offense is a second degree misdemeanor with penalties of up to $500 in fines and up to 60 days in jail. A subsequent offense is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 1 year of jail time. Florida law does, however, expressly permit a person over 18 years of age to taste alcohol if it is part of their curriculum as a student at an accredited college.
Associated crimes like possessing or using a fake ID are also illegal. Depending on how the ID has been tampered with, the crime may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Additionally, if a driver under 21 years of age is pulled over and has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02% or higher, Florida’s zero tolerance law requires that the driver forfeit their license for 6 months.
Some common ways that Florida's criminal trespass laws are violated could be:
- entering onto another's property to interfere with business;
- unlawfully occupying the property of another;
- refusing to leave the property of another upon the owner's request;
- refusing to leave a public building during those hours of the day or night when the building is regularly closed to the public after being asked to leave by an employee.
Depending on the circumstances, criminal trespass carries penalties that may include jail, probation, and a permanent criminal record. A typical misdemeanor conviction carries up to 60 days in jail, though a felony violation involving a firearm carries a maximum term of imprisonment of up to 5 years.
Contact Hubbs Law, P.A. for Legal Counsel
If you or your child are facing criminal charges as a juvenile, it is advisable to contact an experienced attorney for legal representation today. Whether the alleged offense is related to larceny, drug possession, or trespassing in Florida, Hubbs Law, P.A. can provide you the legal guidance you need.
Contact Hubbs Law, P.A. to discuss your juvenile case in a free consultation with our legal team today.