"They Can't Use My Juvenile Record, Right?"
I have been asked by many clients “why is the state using my juvenile convictions to add points to my guidelines?" This is often followed by “that’s not fair” or “they can’t do that”. The following rules apply to the young men and women who have only been a legal adult for a short time, but have found themselves arrested and facing a felony charge.
The assistant state attorney on your case will often calculate and provide a copy of what they believe to be the guidelines if you are convicted and to be sentenced. Obviously, if there is a dispute as to the guidelines, a defense attorney can raise this dispute at sentencing and the trial judge will have the final word.
In a past case, my client was only 19 years old, but had plead guilty to a felony offense and was facing sentencing. He was eventually sentenced to a non state prison sentence and received a withhold of adjudication, but the State tried their best to achieve a harsher sentence. The State had scored him at 21 months state prison and had used two prior juvenile burglary charges to add an extra 28 points to his guidelines. He was very upset, believing that once he turned 18, his Juvenile record could not be used against him. Unfortunately, this appears to be a common belief. The following is the actual law:
The Florida Law Regarding Juvenile Record Being Used For Guidelines Score
Florida Statutes §921.0021 provide in part:
(5) “Prior record” means a conviction for a crime committed by the offender, as an adult or a juvenile, prior to the time of the primary offense….Juvenile disposition of offenses committed by the offender within 5 years before the primary offense are included in the offender’s prior record when the offense would have been a crime had the offender been and adult….
Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure 3.704(d)(14)(B) provides in part:
Juvenile dispositions of offenses committed by the offender within 5 years before the date of the commission of the primary offense must be scored as prior record.
It is important to note that courts have found that the date the offense was committed is the triggering date for purposes of inclusion as a prior record, not the date of disposition or the date of release from sentence (as is commonly used in other sections of the statute).
Juvenile sex offenses are treated differently, as stated in Florida Statutes §921.0021:
(5) Juvenile dispositions of sexual offenses committed by the offender which were committed 5 years or more before the primary offense are included in the offender's prior record if the offender has not maintained a conviction-free record, either as an adult or juvenile, for a period of 5 consecutive years from the most recent date of release from confinement, supervision, or sanction, whichever is later to the date of the primary offense.
18 Is Not A Magic Number In Juvenile Law
Just because you turned 18, does not mean your past can’t come back and bite you. Make sure to understand the time lines in your case and in your past and hire competent counsel to review all aspects of your guidelines.
If you’re interested in a little light reading, you can review the Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet Preparation Manual here.
If You Have Any Questions Regarding a Criminal Case in Florida
Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.