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Youthful Offender Sentencing

In the State of Florida, a court may impose a youthful offender (YO) sentence to somebody who is at least 18 years old who has been transferred for prosecution to circuit court from juvenile court ( juvenile direct file). As well, a court can impose a YO sentence on somebody who is found guilty or has pleaded guilty or no contest to a felony, and that offender is younger than 21 at the time of sentencing, so long as they have not been previously classified a youthful offender.
The benefit to a YO sentence is that the court cannot impose a sentence longer than 6 years. The court may impose a split sentence whereby the youthful offender serves a maximum of 364 days in a county facility, followed by supervision, such as probation or community control. Community control (house arrest) cannot exceed 2 years. Probation can follow community control for 4 years.
The court has discrection in determining whether to impose a YO sentence. This is especially important if an accused person, age 18 to 21, is charged with a serious felony, such as armed robbery, armed burglary, or trafficking in drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, or oxycodone (OxyContin).
A YO sentence can spare a young defendant from facing the harsh maximum penalties associated with serious violent felonies.
Of course, the court will consider the violent nature of the charge, the record and previous history of the accused, and the interests of protection of the community before imposing a YO sentence. However, a good Miami-Dade County criminal defense attorney who practices in the Miami and Broward courts may be able to craft an intelligent argument, explaining to the judge why their client should be given YO sanctions.
If you or your child is facing significant prison time for a serious felony offense, contact me, a Miami and Broward criminal defense lawyer. Call my office to set up a free consultation.