In Florida, the youngest age a child can be charged as an adult and sentenced to adult jail is 14 years old. This is one of the lowest minimum ages in the country. However, even younger children may end up detained in juvenile detention centers if charged with serious crimes.
Can a 10 year old go to jail in Florida?
No, in Florida a 10 year old cannot be sentenced to an adult jail. The minimum age to be charged as an adult in Florida is 14 years old. However, a 10 year old could potentially be held in a juvenile detention center if charged with a serious crime.
Florida law states that any child under 14 years old cannot be tried as an adult or sentenced to adult prison. Instead, children under 14 who commit crimes fall under the jurisdiction of the juvenile justice system.
Within the juvenile system, there are still detention centers where youth may be held pre-trial or sentenced for up to 36 months. So a 10 year old could potentially end up in a juvenile detention facility, but not an adult jail.
What is the youngest age for juvenile detention in Florida?
There is no minimum age for juvenile detention in Florida. Children as young as 8 or 9 can be held in secure juvenile detention if charged with a serious crime and deemed a risk to public safety.
Florida law states that any child who is charged with a crime falls under the jurisdiction of the juvenile justice system. The age criteria are:
- Under 14 – Always start in juvenile system
- 14-17 – Start in adult system if charged with serious crimes
- 18+ – Automatically start in adult system
So while children under 14 cannot be held in an adult jail, there is no minimum age to be placed in juvenile detention pre-trial or after sentencing. The key factors are the severity of the crime and whether the child is considered a risk to public safety.
What is the average age for juvenile detention in Florida?
According to 2021 statistics from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, the average age of youth in secure detention is 15 years old.
Here is a breakdown of the ages of youth in secure detention in Florida:
|Age||Percent of Detained Youth|
|12 and under||5%|
As the table shows, 15 year olds make up the largest share at 25%. The average age is skewed higher by the significant number of 16 and 17 year olds, who combined make up 45% of detained youth.
However, a sizable minority of 10-13 year olds are also held in juvenile detention in Florida. So while the average is 15, children as young as 10 may be detained for serious crimes.
What types of crimes can lead to juvenile detention?
There is a wide range of crimes that can result in pre-trial detention or sentenced detention time for juveniles in Florida.
Some of the most common include:
- Violent felonies: Robbery, assault, rape, homicide
- Weapons charges: Handgun possession, firearms theft
- Drug charges: Possession, distribution, trafficking
- Property crimes: Burglary, larceny, vehicle theft
- Probation violations: Breaking terms of community supervision
Judges have significant discretion in deciding whether to detain a child pre-trial or sentence them to time in juvenile detention. Factors considered include the severity of crime, prior record, and whether the child is deemed a public safety risk.
How long can a child be sentenced to juvenile detention?
Florida juvenile detention sentences have the following maximum limits:
- Misdemeanor – Max sentence of 1 year
- 1st Degree Felony – Max 36 months
- Life Felony – Max 36 months
However, a child can be held pre-trial for up to 21 days regardless of charge. And sentences can run consecutively for multiple charges.
There is also no minimum detention time in Florida. Even for serious felonies, a judge can sentence a child to time served or probation without additional incarceration time.
What age can you go to adult jail in Florida?
The youngest age a child can be sentenced to adult jail in Florida is 14 years old. This is one of the lowest minimum ages in the country.
Under Florida’s juvenile justice laws, here are the key age criteria:
- Under 14 – Always start in juvenile system
- 14-15 – Can be charged as adult for violent felonies
- 16-17 – Can be charged as adult for any felony
- 18+ – Automatically start in adult system
So at 14-15 years old, a child can be transferred to adult court and jail if charged with serious violent crimes like murder, rape, armed robbery, and other major felonies.
At 16-17 they can be charged as an adult for any felony. Once they turn 18, they automatically enter the adult system for any crime.
Can a 14 year old go to an adult jail in Florida?
Yes, a 14 year old can be sentenced to an adult jail in Florida if charged and convicted of specific violent crimes.
Under Florida law, 14 and 15 year olds can be tried as adults and sentenced to adult facilities if charged with the following crimes:
- Sexual battery
- Aggravated child abuse
- Aggravated assault
- Aggravated stalking
- Unlawful throwing/projectile
- Armed burglary
Prosecutors have discretion in deciding whether to directly file charges in adult court. If filed as a juvenile, judges can still choose to waive jurisdiction to adult court.
14 and 15 year olds charged with these crimes make up a small fraction of the approximately 60,000 youth arrested in Florida each year. But dozens are sentenced to adult facilities annually.
Has a 13 year old ever been in adult jail in Florida?
While rare, there have been cases of 13 year olds being housed in adult jails in Florida after being charged with serious crimes.
State law does not allow 13 year olds to be prosecuted as adults. However, 13 year olds have on occasion been held in adult jails pre-trial before their cases were moved to juvenile court.
For example, in 2018 a 13 year old boy was arrested on a first degree murder charge for allegedly shooting his mother. He was initially held in an adult jail due to the severity of the charge.
After several weeks, he was transferred to a juvenile facility once his case was moved to juvenile court given his age. But the initial adult jail detention still sparked controversy.
While extremely uncommon, a small number of 13 year olds have found themselves detained pre-trial in adult facilities before having their case transferred to juvenile court.
Can a 17 year old go to adult jail in Florida?
Yes, 17 year olds charged with a felony in Florida are automatically treated as adults and can be sentenced to adult jails and prisons.
Here is how Florida juvenile vs adult jurisdiction works for 17 year olds:
- Misdemeanors – Juvenile court system
- Non-violent felonies – Start in adult court, but can request transfer to juvenile
- Violent felonies – Automatically adult court
So any 17 year old charged with a felony, whether non-violent or violent, will begin their case in the adult criminal justice system. Non-violent offenses can be transferred to juvenile court at a judge’s discretion.
But violent felonies such as assault, robbery, and other major crimes lead to adult charges. If convicted, 17 year olds face sentencing in adult facilities rather than juvenile detention.
Does Florida have blended sentencing?
Yes, Florida has a blended sentencing law that allows certain juvenile offenders to begin sentences in juvenile facilities before transferring to adult prison.
Blended sentencing applies to juveniles who:
- Are prosecuted as adults
- Are convicted of serious crimes
- Receive an adult sentence of more than 3 years
With blended sentencing, these youth begin their incarceration in juvenile detention centers up until age 21. They are then transferred to complete their remaining sentence in adult prison.
So a 17 year old receives a 10 year prison sentence. They would spend the first 4 years in juvenile detention until turning 21. The remaining 6 years would be in adult prison.
Blended sentencing gives serious young offenders some time in juvenile facilities focused on rehabilitation before serving longer terms in adult prisons.
Does Florida allow juvenile life without parole?
Yes, Florida permits juvenile offenders as young as 14 to be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that life without parole sentences for non-homicide crimes committed by juveniles are unconstitutional. So now, only juveniles convicted of murders can face this sentence.
Florida has more than 200 people serving life without parole for murders committed as juveniles. Defendants as young as 14 at the time of crimes have received this sentence.
However, in recent years the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that juvenile life without parole should only be applied to the “rarest of juvenile offenders.” Judges must consider many factors before imposing this sentence on youth.
Does Florida have youthful offender status?
Yes, Florida has a youthful offender designation that allows some juveniles tried as adults to serve reduced sentences in specific facilities.
The key criteria for youthful offender status in Florida are:
- Charged with crime before 21st birthday
- Sentenced to adult prison
- No prior adult convictions
- Found suitable by Department of Corrections
If designated a youthful offender, the individual serves their sentence in a youthful offender facility run by the Florida Department of Corrections until age 21. They are then transferred to complete their sentence in an adult prison.
Youths convicted of certain severe crimes like homicide are ineligible. But the youthful offender program allows most juvenile offenders to begin sentences in specialized, less harsh facilities focused on rehabilitation.
When does Florida juvenile court lose jurisdiction?
A juvenile court in Florida loses jurisdiction over an individual when they turn:
- 18 for misdemeanors
- 19 for felonies
- 21 for extended juvenile jurisdiction
So once an individual turns 18, they exit the juvenile system for misdemeanors. Felony jurisdiction lasts until 19. And youths with extended jurisdiction can remain until 21 before being transferred to adult court.
Extended jurisdiction applies to serious offenders who received long sentences but also rehabilitative dispositions in the juvenile system. They may remain under juvenile supervision up to age 21 before exiting the system.
Does Florida hold minors in solitary confinement?
Florida has faced scrutiny for its use of solitary confinement for youth held in both juvenile detention and adult jails. But reforms have limited the practice in recent years.
Previously, Florida detained youth in solitary for weeks or months at a time. But under pressure from advocates, the legislature imposed restrictions including:
- Ban on solitary for kids under 13
- Max 3 days for 13-17 year olds
- Max 5 days for 18-20 year olds
- Must be approved by facility superintendent
Solitary confinement continues to be used but only for short periods for older teenagers and with authorization from top officials. Still, advocates argue that research shows that isolating youth for even a few days can cause psychological damage.
In Florida, children as young as 14 or even 13 in rare cases can be prosecuted as adults and sentenced to adult jails. While unusual, a small number of young teenagers have faced adult charges and incarceration when accused of violent crimes.
Younger children still face the possibility of detention in juvenile facilities, with no minimum age specified in Florida law. The average age for juvenile detention is 15, but children as young as 8 or 9 can be held if deemed a risk to public safety.
Florida’s laws allowing adult charges for 14 and 15 year olds are among the toughest in the nation. But recent reforms have aimed to provide more rehabilitative options within the juvenile system. Further changes to keep younger teens out of the adult system are still sought by juvenile justice advocates.