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Unfortunately, that answer is yes. The legal system does not follow the same rules as buying alcohol or cigarettes; you do not have to be 21 or 18 years old before certain regulations take effect. There aren’t set age laws where a person must be 18 years old to be placed in the adult criminal system. Depending on many factors, including the nature of the felony and criminal history, your child can be tried as an adult in the state of Florida. A juvenile is considered to be 17 years of age or younger, but those felonies can be serious enough to be handled by a criminal court instead of the juvenile system. If the crime was sexually motivated or a serious, violent crime, the child has a long criminal history and the juvenile system is no longer working, or if the child has already been tried as an adult, the chances are high the case will be transferred to an adult criminal court. Unless the crime is a capital offense, the youngest age a juvenile can be tried as an adult in the state of Florida is 14 years old.

There are three (3) different categories in which a juvenile can be transferred to the adult criminal system.

  1. Florida is one of the few states that offer direct filing. Prosecutors have the discretion to file a juvenile’s case in adult criminal court without needing to have approval by a judge or jury. The 2 types of direct filings are Mandatory filing, which applies to 16 or 17-year old juveniles who have committed any type of felony offense; and Discretionary filing, which applies when the juvenile is 14 years or older. Discretionary direct filing occurs on only a variety of crimes, approximately 21 different felonies, all of which can be found under Florida statute 985.557. Examples of those felonies include: aggravated assault and battery, homicide, grand theft auto, armed robbery, etc.

Suppose you receive a phone call from a friend asking you to bail them out of jail after their arrest. For most of us, this is an uncommon decision to make. Before you make any determinations, it is important to understand the bail process. Upon arrest in Florida, a person is be processed at a local county jail. Bail is a process of posting bail or money at the jail (or court) to ensure a defendant’s return to court.  It is designed to help ensure that individuals show up for subsequent court appearances. Before you post bail or assist a friend in the posting of bond, you should be aware of several considerations.

First, it is imperative to assess the quality of your friendship.  Is this a really good friend or just an acquaintance you are assisting?  In your decision, you may also wish to consider the nature of the charges and the amount of the bond at issue. Further, keep in mind that being charged with a crime is a stressful experience and may provoke behaviors that could lead to the defendant’s absence in court.

The most popular way of bailing someone out of jail is with the assistance of a bail bondsman.  The bondsman will issue a bond for you, which essentially guarantees the court system your friend will be present at future hearings. Generally, bail bondsmen in Florida post the bond themselves and charge a non-refundable fee (10% of the total bond).  The money paid to a bail bondman is known as bail premiums, and this amount is non-refundable. Nonetheless, there are many advantages to hiring a bail bondman to bail your friend. The bail procedures are technical matters that require vast knowledge and experience, and your bail bondsman may guarantee a smooth bailing process. There is a significant amount of paperwork that comes with the bail process, and your bondsman can provide you with the expertise required to handle these documents with accuracy. Keep in mind, when using a bail bond company, it is likely they will require some basic information such as your friend’s name, date of birth, and the name of the detention center where he or she is currently being held. Furthermore, you will need to provide your credit card and driver’s license information for surety purposes. The support of a bail bondsman can go a long way to ensure that all financial and legal matters are handled properly.

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The police have shown up at my door and accused me of having sexual relations with a woman who is underage. There was consent and she told me she was 20 years old. She turned out to be 16 years old. What should I do?

If the police show up asking questions, you should not answer any of their questions or make any statements to them regarding the accusations. Once they leave, call an attorney who specializes in criminal defense and explain the police are making these alleged accusations against you. The attorney will provide you with legal advice by explaining your next steps and advising you to not contact the other party involved, or speak to the police without an attorney present.

In Florida, having sexual relations with a minor can result in criminal charges, leading to prison time and hefty fines. The age of sexual consent is 18 years old- anyone under the age of 18 is considered a minor. Regardless of the minor giving consent, Florida law declares minors to be incapable of giving informed consent.

As much as we would wish that to be true, it is not. Attempted murder, under Florida statutes 777.04: Attempts, Solicitation, Conspiracy and 782.04: Homicide; Murder, is prosecuted and punishable with a murder prison sentence.

To be convicted of murder, two elements must be proven. In legal terms, they are called ‘mens rea’ or a guilty mind, and ‘actus reus’ or a guilty act.

  • Mens Rea= A Guilty Mind

Vehicular homicide occurs when a person is driving a vehicle and fatally harms an individual or unborn child. If the unborn child dies, even if the mother of the unborn child survives, it can still be charged a vehicular homicide. The driver must be proven to be driving recklessly when the incident occurred. Florida courts define recklessness as behavior likely to cause death or great bodily harm, or willful disregard for the safety of others. Even if the individual does not die at the scene of the accident but succumbs to their injuries soon after, you can still be charged with vehicular homicide. Intent is not an element when being charged; prosecution will not care that you did not want to kill another person. They just need to prove that someone died, that you caused the accident, and you were behaving recklessly.

Many scenarios highlight a vehicular homicide charge. You could be turning right at an intersection and hit a person on the crosswalk during their right-of-way because you are trying to beat the red light. You could be driving excessively at 70 MPH in a 45 MPH zone and hit another person’s car, causing them to lose control and crash. You could be trying to pass another car in a “No Pass” zone and hit an oncoming car. In some cases where a person fell asleep at the wheel and killed another person when their car crashed have being convicted of vehicular homicide because they knew of their tired state but drove anyway, acting recklessly and putting others in harm’s way. All these scenarios come from Florida court cases where the defendant has a vehicular homicide charge because their reckless driving was endangering others.

Florida also has a charge for vessel homicide. Whereas a ‘vehicle’ is defined as a land motor vehicle, such as a car, a motorcycle, a semi, etc., a ‘vessel’ is defined under Florida Rules as a watercraft vehicle: an airboat, a barge, boat, canoe, commercial fishing vessel, and commercial parasailing. Vessel homicide follows the same requirements and charges as vehicular homicide.  The same as above, even if the individual does not die at the scene of the accident but succumbs to their injuries soon after, you can still be charged with vessel homicide.

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I would like thank my attorney Thomas Luka. I knew from the beginning I had the right guy in my corner. While celebrating with family and friends at a Public Park in Seminole County, a fight broke out among various people. Myself, and a good friend, broke up the fight and the instigators left. Six months later, I was wrongly accused as the person who started the fight. The first attorney I hired could not even get a response from the State Attorney handling the case. Someone referred me to Tom and I felt comfortable at his demeanor and reactions.

After conversations with Tom, who knew I would settle for nothing less than a FULL DISMISSAL due to my innocence, I hired him. His firm of Adams and Luka did the due diligence by interviewing witnesses and the police who were on the scene, as well as starting a dialogue with the State Attorney. After gathering statements from witnesses, Tom was able to present a strong argument on my behalf to the State Attorney on why the case should be dismissed. If the State Attorney was not willing to dismiss the case, Tom was ready to take the case to trial.

The result by Thomas Luka: Case Dismissed.

I am 53 years old with a spotless record and glad to keep it that way thanks to the time, effort, hard work, and professionalism of the Adams and Luka and Tom Luka.

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Thomas Luka left a life-long great impression of lawyers. He was always professional, on time, and answered things honestly. From the start and during the 14 months it went on - Tom was very upfront and honest with me about the possible outcomes. The result was better than I had hoped for. Tom really over-delivered. HIGHLY RECCOMEND. Marcela Giorgi
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Adams and Luka were very professional and savvy in the courtroom. When you're in court with Mr. Luka you will think you have the best attorney there. I recommend this law firm. Pioneer Tech
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Rich Adams is an outstanding criminal attorney. I have had the opportunity to refer several friends and clients to his practice for handling of criminal matters, and on every occasion he has produced an excellent result. Rich practices with attention to detail, a thorough knowledge of the law, and a passion to defend his clients. I will continue to refer clients to Rich Adams, and would strongly recommend him for your legal needs. Brian Pink
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