Our Pembroke Pines and Hollywood juvenile defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know that the prosecution’s decision to drop criminal charges against the Pembroke Pines teens who uploaded nude pictures of other minors is an important one.
Last month, we wrote about this case in its infancy; as you may recall, three juveniles were arrested for uploading naked photos of fellow juveniles to an account on the social networking app Instagram. In other words, they were arrested on suspicion of sharing child pornography on the internet.
This week, as we noted above, prosecutors handling the case decided that the three teens would be better suited in therapy and community service than they’d be facing criminal charges. Specifically, the teenagers will be partaking in a juvenile diversion program.
On Wednesday, the Broward State Attorney’s Office announced that the teenagers who were arrested last month (two boys and one girl) would be participating in the diversion programs which are expected to take about three to six months to complete.
Important to note is the fact that Maria Schneider, the head of the juvenile unit within the Broward State Attorney’s Office, announced that no potential victims had either come forward or indicated that they would be willing to participate in the prosecution. While it’s absolutely true (as our Pembroke Pines and Hollywood juvenile defense lawyers know from our prior experience as prosecutors) that prosecutors can try a case and even obtain a conviction without direct testimony from the victim of the crime in question, it’s also the case that a lack of involvement of the victim hinders the prosecution’s ability to make an airtight case.
Last month, our Pembroke Pines and Hollywood juvenile defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert wrote that while teenagers uploading nude photos of other teenagers produces the same result as older pedophiles uploading nude photos of teenagers, it’s important to consider the impact of youthful lapses in judgment. The teenagers who were arrested were/are 13 years old; these juveniles still have another 10-12 years of brain development left. As we discussed over the summer, the erratic teenage brain is very different from the more logical adult mind.
In particular, studies from institutions of higher education such as Cornell and Stanford have proven that in teenagers, the limbic system develops far earlier than does the prefrontal cortex. What this means is that teenagers are prone to action on impulse to embrace the “reward center” of their brain while not having the developed capacity (via the prefrontal cortex) to be able to fully understand the implications of what they’re doing. In other words, the physical makeup of their brains cause teenagers to seek joy and embrace thrill yet makes them unable to understand the consequences of their actions.
Our Pembroke Pines and Hollywood juvenile defense lawyers know that having these 13-year-olds enter therapy and perform community service will give the offenders a chance to reflect on their actions and get to the root of the underlying issues. This will serve them and the rest of us Floridians well in the long run. Simply charging them as criminals and funneling them into an overpopulated criminal justice system in which they could face jail, probation, fines, etc., not to mention all types of stigmas, would make them more likely to go on to commit similar crimes in the future. Hopefully, this juvenile diversion program will give them the opportunity to work on themselves such that they cease acting out in the manner they did.
If you or a minor that you know has been arrested for or charged with a crime in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade County, please contact our juvenile defense lawyers by calling 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363) to schedule a free consultation. We know that first-time juvenile offenders can often qualify for juvenile diversion programs, circumventing a damaging criminal record. Get in touch with us to see how we can help you.