The youthful offender act was created to deal with offenders who do not belong in the juvenile justice system and should not be treated as harshly as adults in the criminal justice system. Its sort of a halfway point between the two. The youthful offender act provides sentencing alternatives to criminal penalties if the court classifies a person a youthful offender.
Who Qualifies as a Youthful Offender?
- An offender who is at least 18 years of age or a juvenile who has been transferred from the juvenile division for prosecution in the criminal division of the circuit court;
- An offender who is found guilty of, or who has entered a plea of nolo contendere or guilty to a crime that is a felony if the offender is younger than 21 years of age at the time sentence is imposed; and
- An offender who has not previously been classified as a youthful offender under the provisions of the act.
- A person who has been found guilty of a capital or life felony may not be sentenced as a youthful offender under this act.
What Sentences Can a Judge Impose Under the Act?
A judge may place a youthful offender on probation or in a community control program, with or without an adjudication of guilt, for a period of not more than 6 years.
A judge may impose a period of incarceration as a condition of probation or community control, which period of incarceration shall be served in a county facility, a department of corrections probation and restitution center, or a community residential facility. Placement in such a facility or center may not exceed 364 days.
A judge may impose a split sentence whereby the offender is to be placed on probation or community control upon completion of any specified period of incarceration; however, if the incarceration period is to be served in a department of corrections facility other than a probation and restitution center or community residential facility, such period shall be for not less than 1 year or more than 4 years. The period of incarceration and the period of probation or community control, when added together, may not exceed 6 years.
A judge may commit the youthful offender to the custody of the department of corrections for a period of not more than 6 years. Successful participation in the youthful offender program may result in a recommendation to the court, by the department, for a modification or early termination of probation, community control, or the sentence, at any time prior to the scheduled expiration of such term. When a modification of the sentence results in the reduction of a term of incarceration, the court may impose a term of probation or community control which, when added to the term of incarceration, may not exceed the original sentence imposed. See Section 958.04, Florida Statutes The youthful offender act provides sentencing alternatives to criminal penalties. A defendant sentenced under the youthful offender act should not be given mandatory imprisonment.
Do You or a Loved-One Qualify for a Youthful Offender Sentence?
If you or a loved one have been arrested and qualify as a youthful offender, it is critical that you get help from an experienced criminal defense attorney. Youthful offender qualification and sentencing are complex and require the help of someone with experience and knowledge. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you avoid a lengthy prison term and get the help you need.
Why Fernandez & Hernandez?
If you have been arrested in the Tampa Bay area and you qualify as a youthful offender, Fernandez & Hernandez will provide a free consultation and discuss the youthful offender act with you. If you qualify for a youthful offender sentence the criminal defense attorneys at Fernandez & Hernandez will be able to help you. If you need legal assistance call Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Daniel J. Fernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez at 813-229-5353.