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Juvenile Transfers to Criminal Court in Florida: The 1994 Reforms

NCJ Number
Date Published
Donna M. Bishop, Ph.D., Lonn Lanza-Kaduce, Ph.D., Charles E. Frazier, Ph.D., Jodi Lane, Ph.D., and Henry G. White, J.D.
This report presents and interprets data on Florida's juvenile transfers to criminal court between 1993 and 1995 to determine any impacts from the Florida legislature's 1994 expansion of State laws on juvenile transfers.
The 1994 legislation extended prosecutorial direct file by permitting prosecutors to file charges directly in criminal court against 14-year-old and 15-year-old defendants charged with 1 of 14 "qualifying" serious felony offenses. It also required prosecutors to file charges directly in criminal court against any juvenile being prosecuted for a new offense who had already been adjudicated delinquent on at least three separate occasions and for whom three separate residential placements had been previously ordered. The legislation further mandated a presumptive judicial waiver for juveniles with three prior delinquency adjudications (or adjudications withheld) for felonies, one or more of which involved violence against a person or using or possessing firearms. According to Florida's Client Information System, the number of cases transferred to criminal court decreased slightly between 1993 and 1995, from 5,469 in 1993 to 5,408 in 1995, despite the expansion of transfer authority in 1994. Data also indicate that the reforms of 1994 had little effect on the types of youth who were transferred in the year following the changes. The lack of immediate impact may indicate that prosecutors and judges have been slow to implement their new authority. It may also reflect differences in perception between legislators and practitioners who deal directly with criminal youth. 3 tables
Date Created: August 5, 2014