Minor A+ student charged as an adult in two cases

MINOR A + STUDENT CHARGED AS AN ADULT IN TWO CASES WITH SECOND DEGREE FELONY BURGLARY OF AN UNOCCUPIED DWELLING AND MULTIPLE OTHER CHARGES FACING 35 YEARS PRISON FOR AMAZON SURFING

CLIENT ACCEPTS PROBATION IN ONE CASE OTHER CASE DISMISSED

Date: November, 2018

Court: Okaloosa County Circuit Court

Details:

Criminal defense case results for Destin, Fort Walton Beach, and surrounding areasThese cases originally were filed in Juvenile Court. Due to an overzealous prosecutor the cases were transferred to adult court where the client’s total exposure was 35 years incarceration in the Florida department of Corrections. The client was an A+ student at a local high school and 17 – years old at the time of the alleged offenses.

Criminal cases are always a rough and bumpy road. This case was no exception and quite stressful for all concerned. Originally we negotiated for our client an agreement with the Department of Juvenile Justice Probation Office where the client would be placed in a diversionary program for what amounted to Amazon Surfing. The diversion program would last a year and then the charges would be dismissed. The Probation Officer recommended this outcome to the Assistant State Attorney assigned to this case.

Despite a promise from that prosecutor not to do so, she bumped the case up to adult court where the client’s maximum exposure was 35 years incarceration in the Florida Department of Corrections. The new prosecutor insisted on three-years prison for our client. I conducted depositions of all the witnesses and proved to the prosecutor that one case was unprovable as against my client. It may have been provable against her co-defendants. As to the other case the victim was deposed, and he stated on the record that he was not in favor of anything bad happening to my client and did not want her to go to prison. He would be satisfied with the client entering a diversion program. Still, despite the victims recommendation, the State was insisting on prison time. We decided not to flinch and set the matter for trial. Our thoughts were that the video evidence, conflicting witness statements and a victim who didn’t want my client to go to prison when combined was sufficient to negate the State’s burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Outcome:  On the eve of trial, the more serious case where the Client faced a second degree felony exposure of 15 years in prison was dropped for insufficient evidence. The State as to the other case, again on the eve of trial offered a three year probationary term which can be terminated at the 18-month mark. The client can then get her record sealed from public view and eventually expunged. The client is now enrolled in college and pursuing a nursing degree.