Articles Posted in Juvenile

Curtis Jones and his sister, Catherine Jones, both nearly thirty years old, are set to leave Florida’s prison system this summer after nearly two decades. Back in 1999, at ages 12 and 13 respectively, Curtis and Catherine became the youngest people in the U.S. to be charged as adults for first-degree murder.
As our Palm Beach and Broward County juvenile defense attorneys know, the two were caught up in the criminal justice system after killing their father’s girlfriend; while some argued that the two murdered Sonya Nicole Speights because she was stealing attention away from them, the two said they killed as an act of revenge for sexual abuse.

Catherine Jones had told her brother about how a male relative had pleasured himself while watching her shower; after what is now the Florida Department of Children and Families declined to move forward with an investigation, Catherine began to plot the murder of her father, her male relative, and Speights; Curtis offered to help.
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This year, the story of two Florida sisters accused of shooting and killing their brother has gripped much of the country. Early reports indicated that the 15-year-old girl shot and killed the 16-year-old brother, while the 11-year-old girl served as a “lookout” while her older sister retrieved the gun from a bedroom.
Initially, the two were going to be charged with murder. Then, in February, they were both released, with charges ruled out for the younger sister. Finally, last month, it was announced that the older sister would also be spared murder charges, a decision made in light of the alleged abuse the two sisters had suffered.

Our West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale juvenile defense lawyers know that this case serves as a great example of how impressionable children are and how seemingly criminal and malicious actions are often just the consequence of abuse and neglect.
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Our Delray Beach and West Palm Beach juvenile defense lawyers know that felony charges are not reserved for suspected murderers, drug cartel leaders and armed bank robbers. Earlier this month, a Florida teenage was arrested for and charged with a felony relating to a prank he pulled on his teacher.
The 14-year-old teenager allegedly logged into his school’s internet network using an administrative password (without permission, of course) and changed a teacher’s computer background to an image the teen thought would be funny.

While the desktop background image prank might seem harmless, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said the arrest and charges were warranted because someone who hacks into a protected internet network, such as a school district’s, has access to a great deal of sensitive and confidential information.
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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.
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When you think of child pornography, after experiencing feelings of disgust and anger, you might picture an adult viewing and/or distributing inappropriate photographs of minors. In other words, more often than not, it’s adults who are implicated in criminal child pornography cases.
However, as our Palm Beach and Broward County juvenile defense lawyers know, it isn’t always adults who are suspected in these types of incidents — often times, as we’ll discuss in this post, it’s minors themselves who are implicated in the child pornography trade.

When underage teenagers are the suspects in child pornography cases, issues associated with age variance, youthful indiscretion, parental duty and corporate responsibility must be considered.
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As our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know, it’s fairly common for people to hand out legal advice that they might have heard on “Suits” or offer medical opinions they might have seen on “Grey’s Anatomy.”
But this incident out of West Palm Beach illustrates a stunt gone too far: a teenager was caught impersonating an OB/GYN at St. Mary’s Medical Center. This case reminds us of a case from 2012, in which a different Florida teen posed as a medical assistant at Osceola Regional Medical Center and treated patients.

We know that there are a number of legal issues brought up by these cases, including laws being violated and the possibility of charges being filed. Still, there are other issues — such as mental health — that must be considered.
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Over the past 2 weeks, police departments throughout the South have been on the lookout for two teens in the midst of a crime spree. The suspects, an 18-year-old and his 13-year-old girlfriend, are drawing comparisons to Bonnie and Clyde, a Great Depression-era couple who traveled the country committing crimes.
Finally, early on Sunday morning, the teens were arrested in Panama City, Florida, after having been found sleeping in a stolen vehicle.

Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know that the age of the suspects has sensationalized the story; that said, the fact that they are both teenagers, and that one of them is a minor (at 13 years old) complicates the story and may impact the impending legal proceedings.
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According to Judge Jay Blitzman, “if you believe in second chances . . . you have to believe in expungement.” Our Palm Beach and Broward County juvenile criminal defense lawyers couldn’t agree more.
If someone makes a mistake during their youth, that mistake shouldn’t necessarily follow them around for the rest of their life, limiting their options and tarnishing their reputation.

Unfortunately, Florida has been given a rating of 3 out of 5 stars by the Juvenile Law Center, which composed a scorecard rating the availability of ways to expunge/seal a juvenile criminal record in each state. And that isn’t even the worst part of the story.
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The nation was shocked and horrified to learn in May that two young girls had stabbed a friend 19 times before leaving her to die — all to impress a fictional internet apparition called “Slenderman.” The victim ultimately crawled to safety and the two 12-year-old attackers were arrested for the brutal attack.

As former prosecutors, our experienced Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know that the competency of a defendant to stand trial (i.e., to assist in their own defense) is of true significance in pre-trial discussions between the prosecution team and the defense lawyers. According to one of the accused girls’ attorney, the 12-year-old, who claims to communicate with Slenderman (depicted on the right) and other characters such as Ninja Turtles, is not competent to stand trial and her case should be moved to juvenile court, wherein she would have greater access to social services.

Based on the testimony of two doctors who had met with the girl, the court found that, as of the pretrial hearing regarding competency, the girl was not competent to stand trial but might become competent to do so at some point.
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Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know that whenever a crowd of seemingly rowdy young people approaches, trouble is probably not far away — at least, that’s what many people think. But why do we instinctly associate teenagers with trouble, angst and (often times) criminal behavior?
The fact is that individuals in their early twenties do seem to misbehave at higher rathes than do others in society. But why? Do teenagers just love to drive fast, do drugs and steal things? Research is beginning to shed some light on this issue, and the results could one day cause a major shift in the strategies of criminal defense lawyers representing juveniles.

Medical studies now reveal that the part of the brain responsible for reasoning matures after the parts of the brain that trigger emotions and sensations of reward have developed. In this sense, outlandish behavior by teenagers is, at least in part, explainable by the way the human brain naturally develops.
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