Repeat Offender Who Stole Car was Only 12
A kid who stole a car from an 89 year old man at a gas station recently was only 12 years old and had been arrested 20 times already. He has been arrested again and charged with grand theft auto.
Grand theft auto is a very serious charge for anyone 18 years old and over yet is still serious for even a 12 year old, especially if the reports are true and the 12 year old in question has already been arrested many times before. Florida has been accused of jailing far too many of its minors and redirecting juveniles to the adult court instead of a juvenile court judge. There have been several attempts to change the system to ensure that fewer juveniles are referred to a life in jail and are more amenable to reform. Recidivism is very common in Florida and the state spends huge amounts of money on jailing people over and over again with little attempt to help them assimilate into normal society after release.
Here’s a question being faced by Florida criminal defense lawyers and prosecutors recently. What do you do with a 12 year old who has just stolen his 20th vehicle and yet he is so short that his feet can hardly reach the pedals?
The boy in question allegedly turned up on a bicycle at a gas station on 22nd Avenue in St. Petersburg. He approached an elderly man in his Toyota who was filling up with gas and said that he had a flat tire. The driver, 89 year old Gulfport resident, Raymond Raftery, said he got out of his car to check on the boy’s bicycle and then watched in surprise and horror while the boy jumped into his car and zoomed off.
Raftery admitted afterwards that he felt pretty stupid as the whole incident happened so quickly and it was in broad daylight.
The boy was caught a few days later, but the car was not in such good condition as it was when it was stolen. Raftery got his car back but it had been damaged in an accident. He said that the boy probably was too short to reach the pedals of the Toyota easily.
For an adult charged and convicted of grand theft auto, the penalties depend on the value of the car. The more expensive the car, the more severe the penalties if the charge can be substantiated.
If the car is valued at less than $20,000, then an adult may be sentenced to a maximum of 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. The conviction would be recorded as a third degree felony.
The stakes are upped with any car worth more than $20,000 or if the car is a police car or a car belonging to any of the emergency services. The sentence may then be up to 15 years and $10,000 in fines or both, as this would be a second degree felony in Florida.
If the car stolen is valued at more than $100,000, then the adult may face a first degree felony charge with up to 30 years in prison, as well as a $10,000 fine or both, as a First degree Felony in Florida.
Juveniles like the 12 year old boy described here are usually, but not always, dealt with by the Juvenile Justice System, but currently it is up the the State Attorney’s Office prosecuting the case. The judge has no say in the matter. This is deliberately structured to speed things up, make sure that the minor in trouble spends less time in jail waiting for a decision to be made and the whole accent is on attempting to make sure that there is no repeat offense.
There are many ways that a judge can deal with a child under 18 who has been convicted of an offense like theft. They may have to do community service, put under probation or spend time in juvenile detention, usually for much less time than an adult for the same offense. The object is to try and make sure that the offender doesn’t repeat this or any other offense again. There is no guarantee that this works and one might wonder just what has happened in this 12 year old’s life to make him do the same thing over and over again.
Whatever the case may be, as a parent, you should strive to get your child the best criminal defense lawyer you can afford. There are juvenile defense lawyers willing and able to take your childs case. This can help, especially in the case of children with little or no prior contacts with the criminal justice system to keep their records clean. Criminal records don’t just get wiped at 18 years old as is commonly thought. A juvenile adjudication of guilt can prevent a person from ever sealing or expunging a criminal arrest in the future, even if that person is later found not guilty. A juvenile convicted of a felony can never carry a gun and may have to register as a convicted felon. Don’t take it for granted that the aim of the juvenile court system is to rehabilitate. Many times, your child will be caught in the web of they system and may face serious consequences.
The best thing you can do if you suspect your child is in danger of being arrested or getting in trouble is to have a criminal defense lawyer’s number on speed dial. Find a criminal lawyer you trust, put his number on your cell phone right now and relax. You may never know when you may need him.
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If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: 305-644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.