Firearm Enhancement Statute for Juveniles
When a juvenile is accused of improperly possessing or using a firearm, the consequences are harsh. These special consequences for firearm offenses can apply at different stages of the juvenile case from the initial detention hearing, the final resolution of the case at the adjudicatory hearing, and even after the case is resolved in court.
Many parents are surprised to learn about Florida’s enhanced penalties for juvenile crimes involving firearms under Section 790.22(9). The Florida Legislature designed the statute to “get the immediate attention of all juveniles and to issue a ‘wake-up call’ that the state deems their firearm offenses to be serious enough to warrant the automatic deprivation of their liberty for a period of time, even on a first offense. See State v. J.Z., 957 So.2d 45, 46–47 (Fla. 3d DCA 2007) (quoting T.M. v. State, 689 So.2d 443, 446 (Fla. 3d DCA 1997)).
If your child is charged with a juvenile offense that involves the actual use or possession of a firearm, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm. Our attorneys are experienced in representing minor children in the juvenile courtrooms throughout Tampa and the surrounding areas in the greater Tampa Bay area.
We represent juveniles charged with misdemeanor possession of a firearm and more serious offenses for armed robbery, armed burglary, and aggravated assault with a firearm. If you need a juvenile defense attorney in Tampa, then give us a call to discuss any firearm crime.
Call (813) 250-0500 today.
Penalties for Juvenile Firearm Possession Cases
Notwithstanding section 985.245, if the minor is found to have committed an offense that involves the use or possession of a firearm, as defined in section 790.001, other than a violation of section 790.22(3), or an offense during the commission of which the juvenile actually possessed a firearm, and the minor is not committed to a residential commitment program of the Department of Juvenile Justice, in addition to any other punishment provided by law, the court is required to order the following:
- For a first offense, that the juvenile “shall” be ordered to serve a minimum period of detention of 15 days in a secure detention facility, and perform 100 hours of community service, and may be placed on community control or in a nonresidential commitment program.
- For a second or subsequent offense, that the juvenile “shall” be ordered to serve a mandatory period of detention of at least 21 days in a secure detention facility, and perform not less than 100 nor more than 250 hours of community service, and may be placed on community control or in a nonresidential commitment program.
The statute on Florida’s firearm enhancement also provides that the minor should not receive credit for time served before adjudication. This provision appears to apply only to an adjudication of delinquency, and not a withhold of adjudication of delinquency, but some of the case law indicates otherwise.
Driver’s License Consequences for a Juvenile Firearm Violation
For offenses under section 790.22(9), the judge in juvenile court is required to impose the following penalties in addition to any penalty imposed under section 790.22(9)(a) or (9)(b):
- For a first offense, the court must direct DHSMV to revoke or to withhold issuance of the minor’s driver license or driving privilege for up to one year.
- For a second or subsequent offense, the court must direct DHSMV to revoke or to withhold issuance of the minor’s driver’s license or driving privilege for up to two years.
Recent appellate decisions have indicated that a juvenile is not subject to the firearm enhancement statute where the charging document does not allege that in committing the underlying offense the juvenile possessed or used a firearm. See V.F. v. State, 93 So. 3d 526 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012); B.O. v. State, 25 So. 3d 586 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009).
Secure Detention Procedures for Juvenile Firearm Charges
Notwithstanding section 985.24 or section 985.25(1), if a juvenile is charged with an offense that involves the use or possession of a firearm, as defined in section 790.001, including a violation of section 790.22(3), or is charged for any offense during the commission of which the minor possessed a firearm, the minor shall be detained in secure detention, unless the prosecutor with the state attorney’s office authorizes the release of the minor, and shall be given a hearing within 24 hours after being taken into custody.
At the hearing, the court may order that the minor continue to be held in secure detention in accordance with the applicable time periods specified in section 985.26(1)-(5), if:
- the court finds that the minor meets the criteria specified in section 985.255, or
- if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the minor is a clear and present danger to himself or the community.
The Department of Juvenile Justice is required to prepare a form for all minors charged under this subsection that states the period of detention and the relevant demographic information. The court will review the form when considering whether the minor should be continued in secure detention under section 790.22(8).
The court must enter a written order when putting a minor child in secure detention if the court finds that the minor child is a clear and present danger to himself or herself or the community. Thereafter, DJJ is required to send the form, without identifying the child, to the Office of Economic and Demographic Research.
Lawyers for Children Charged with Firearm Crimes in Florida
For all of the reasons explained in this article, juvenile offenses involving the use or possession of a firearm are serious. It is beneficial to have an experienced juvenile defense attorney representing your child after an allegation for improperly possessing a firearm.
Our juvenile defense attorneys represent young people accused of criminal wrongdoing in and around the Tampa Bay area. Let us put our experience to work for you.
This article was last updated on Friday, August 31, 2018.