When young people enter the prison system, there has always been hope that they will eventually be rehabilitated. This line of thinking it was led to Florida’s 1978 Youthful Offender Act. The goal of this statue is to provide young adults with a better chance at successful re-entry into society by offering additional sentencing options compared to older adults.
The Youthful Offender Act also provides opportunities such as educational/vocational counseling and public service opportunities.
Continue on to learn more about Florida’s Youthful Offender Act.
Who Is Considered a Youthful Offender?
According to Chapter 958 of Title XLVII to the Florida Statutes, a youthful offender is defined as any of the following:
- A person who is at least 18 years of age but younger than 21 years of age at the time of sentencing.
- A person who has been found guilty of a felony with the exception of a capital life felony.
- A person who has not been classified as a youthful offender on a previous conviction.
Even if a person is not considered a youthful offender by the court, they can still be considered a youthful offender by the Florida Department of Corrections if they fall into either of the following two categories:
- 24-years-old or younger with a sentence of 10 years or less.
- 19-years-old or younger with a sentence longer than 10 years. The person must also be deemed a vulnerable inmate whose safety would be at risk in an adult institution.
How Are Youthful Offenders Typically Sentenced?
The Youthful Offender Act gives the court several sentencing options. The most common sentences are:
- Probation or community control for up to six months.
- Incarceration for no more than 364 days which can be served in county jail, a community residential facility, or a department probation and restitution center.
- A maximum of six years in prison.
- A split sentence that includes prison and probation. The prison term cannot exceed four years.
If a person sentenced under the Youthful Offender Act commits a new crime while on probation or community control, they can be re-sentenced as an adult and given the maximum sentence despite originally being considered a youthful offender. However, the consequence given for a probation violation will depend on the type of violation committed.
These violations are broken down into two categories:
Substantive: Being arrested or charged with a new crime while on probation.
Technical: Failing to completely abide by the terms of probation. For example, leaving the country without permission or failing to pay court fees or fines.
How An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
If you or someone you love has been charged as a youthful offender in the Tampa Bay area, Fernandez & Hernandez will provide a free consultation and discuss your situation. If you need legal assistance call Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Daniel J. Fernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez at 813-229-5353.