A Trio of Teens Rob Deaf Student at Knifepoint

November 1, 2022 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements, Theft/Property Crimes, Violent Crimes

Juveniles can break the law just the same as adults do. Typically, the justice system has a different way of handling cases involving minors. A person under the age of 18 who is charged with a crime will usually go to juvenile court. However, in some instances, the minor can be transferred to what is known as adult court instead.

A recent case in Florida shows the outcome of teens attempting to rob another minor at a bus stop. We will provide details of the incident, along with information on juvenile robbery cases.

What was the Case?

Three 17-year-olds have been arrested after robbing a deaf student at knifepoint while he waited for the school bus in Miami-Dade County. According to the police report, Christopher Porras, Carlos Prado, and Alex Gomez were the three juveniles arrested.

On September 30th, the three teenage boys approached the victim at the bus stop at Southwest 17th Avenue and Fourth Street in the Little Havana neighborhood. “Prado took out a knife, directed it towards the victim’s stomach and uttered something,” said one of the investigating officers.

The underage victim was a deaf teen, who couldn’t hear what the three suspects were saying to him. “Porras and Gomez stood by. The victim tried to sign that he was unable to hear but was able to read the word phone,” the same officer said.

Local police said that the victim handed over his phone and the three teens ran away. Once the victim reported the incident to his mother, she attempted to track her son’s stolen phone. The mother was able to track down the phone, which was located only a block away from the bus stop where the crime took place.

Police investigated the apartment complex where the phone showed it was located. One of the neighbors pointed out one of the apartments where they knew there were teenage boys. Porras and Gomez answered the door, and Prado ran out the other door.

Police managed to capture Prado and take him and the other two teens into custody. The officers reported spotting a folding knife on top of a table in the apartment’s living room. The knife was seized and taken in as evidence in the case. When the victim was questioned about the knife, he said he recognized it as the knife Prado used in the robbery. The cellphone has still not been located.

Prado faces charges of armed robbery, but the charges for the other two teens have not yet been announced.

Juvenile Charges and Penalties for Robbery

A robbery charge is very serious for both juveniles and adults. A robbery is defined under Florida Statute section 812.13 as when a person takes money or other property which may be the subject of larceny from the person or custody of another person, with the intent to either temporarily or permanently deprive the victim of the money or property.

A person commits robbery by taking something from someone else while using force, violence, assault, or by putting the victim in a state of fear. Since under the law a robbery involves threats, force, or even a weapon, it is considered a violent crime in Florida. If the alleged robber is using a weapon or firearm, then it is considered an armed robbery.

In juvenile court, it is likely that the defendant would be sentenced to some type of detention center, residential treatment, counseling, restitution to the victims, or some other diversion program.

If the juvenile is transferred to adult court, then the penalties for robbery or armed robbery are much more severe. If the defendant did not use a deadly weapon or firearm during the robbery, then it is considered a second-degree felony in Florida. A second-degree felony has the following penalties:

  • Up to $10,000 fine
  • Up to 15 years in prison
  • Up to 15 years of probation

If the defendant is accused of a robbery involving a deadly weapon or firearm, it is considered a first-degree felony. A first-degree felony in Florida has the following penalties:

  • Up to a $10,000 fine
  • Up to 30 years in prison

Juvenile Felonies Transferring to Adult Court

Under Florida Statute Section 985.556 there are three ways that a juvenile can be tried as an adult—meaning if convicted, they would go to the adult state prison, and face penalties the same as an adult would. (1) Through Voluntary Waiver, (2) Involuntary Discretionary Waiver, and (3) Involuntary Mandatory Waiver.

Voluntary Waiver means that the child alongside his/her parents asks the court in writing to have the child tried as an adult.

Involuntary Discretionary Waiver occurs when the state attorney is requesting the court to transfer a child who is 14 years of age or older to the adult system. The following is a list of ways a juvenile case can be transferred to adult court:

  • The juvenile committed a serious felony-level offense
  • The juvenile has previously been tried as an adult
  • The juvenile has previous felony adjudications
  • The juvenile committed a violent offense
  • The juvenile committed an offense with a weapon or firearm
  • The juvenile was 16 or 17 years of age at the time the alleged offense was committed

Finally, Involuntary Mandatory Waiver means that even if the child does not want to be tried as an adult if they are over 14 years of age or older and have either:

(1) been previously adjudicated delinquent of a felony involving conspiracy to commit murder, sexual battery, armed or strong-armed robbery, carjacking, home-invasion robbery, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, or burglary with an assault or battery and are now facing a second or subsequent violent crime charge; or

(2) if the child was 14 or older when committing a fourth or subsequent alleged felony offense, for which he had previously been adjudicated delinquent or had adjudication withheld from 3 offenses that would be considered felonies if committed by an adult, and one or more of those felony offenses involved the use or possession of a firearm or violence against a person;

Then, under the Involuntary Mandatory Waiver, the state attorney shall request the court to transfer and certify the child for prosecution as an adult.

Determining if the Juvenile will be Transferred to Adult Court

It is important to understand that even if the state attorney request that the juvenile is transferred for criminal prosecution AKA adult court, the court must hold a hearing where they consider the following issues:

1. The seriousness of the alleged offense to the community and whether the protection of the community is best served by transferring the child for adult sanctions.

2. Whether the alleged offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated, or willful manner.

3. Whether the alleged offense was against persons or against property, with greater weight being given to offenses against persons, especially if personal injury resulted.

4. The probable cause as found in the report, affidavit, or complaint.

5. The desirability of trial and disposition of the entire offense in one court when the child’s associates in the alleged crime are adults or children who are to be tried as adults.

6. The sophistication and maturity of the child.

7. The record and previous history of the child, including:

a. Previous contacts with the department, the Department of Corrections, the former Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, the Department of Children and Families, other law enforcement agencies, and courts;

b. Prior periods of probation;

c. Prior adjudications that the child committed a delinquent act or violation of law, with greater weight being given if the child has previously been found by a court to have committed a delinquent act or violation of law involving an offense classified as a felony or has twice previously been found to have committed a delinquent act or violation of law involving an offense classified as a misdemeanor; and

d. Prior commitments to institutions.

8. The prospects for adequate protection of the public and the likelihood of reasonable rehabilitation of the child, if the child is found to have committed the alleged offense, by the use of procedures, services, and the facilities currently available to the court.

Because of all the above considerations, having a skilled Juvenile Criminal Defense attorney on your side can only make helpful you navigate this hearing, but can help the court determine if a transfer to an adult court is even appropriate.

Juvenile Criminal Defense

It is extremely important for a juvenile accused of a crime to seek out legal help. Anyone under the age of 18 may think they cannot get in a lot of trouble for breaking the law since they are not yet considered adults. However, there are still harsh consequences for a minor who has committed a crime. Even without going to adult court, a teen charged with a crime can be sentenced to probation, placed in a diversion program, or placed in juvenile incarceration. In the more serious cases, not only the minor can be charged as an adult, but they can face all of the life-long repercussions that come from this.

Aside from direct penalties, a juvenile conviction can seriously alter the plans for your future. For one, it can affect college acceptance or job prospects. That’s why it is highly recommended for a juvenile charged with a crime to contact a skilled defense attorney in your area.

To read more about the importance of Criminal Defense Representation for Juveniles, find our informative page.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you are a juvenile accused of a crime, or if you are the parent or guardian of a juvenile accused of a crime, reach out to a defense attorney today. The fate of your future may rest in the case’s results. There’s no reason to put anything to chance—an experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorney will work towards building a strong defense for your case. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented clients of all ages for various criminal charges. Call us for a free consultation at (850) 681-7777 or leave us an online message on our website.

Written by Karissa Key

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