Articles Posted in Juvenile Defense

My child has recently been hanging out with a new group of friends. I haven’t met the friends yet, but I’m aware that a few of them have been in trouble at school and have even been arrested in the past. I don’t believe my own child would commit any crimes, but I’m worried my child may still get into trouble if he’s with these other children and they do something illegal.

Parents should be aware of who their children are spending time with, if their friends commit a crime and your child is with them when it happens, your child can be charged with the same crime. The most serious example of this is felony murder. Felony murder laws have gained recent media coverage, as some criminal justice reformation movements are pushing to change or abolish felony murder laws across the states. Under Florida’s homicide statutes, a person who is present during or an accomplice to the commission of certain felonies can be charged with second-degree murder if someone is killed during the commission of that felony, even if that person is not the one who actually killed someone and did not intend for anyone to die.

An example of this would be if your child was present with a group of friends during a burglary, and one of the friends shot and killed someone during that burglary, your child could be charged with felony murder, even if your child did not intend for anyone to be harmed during the burglary and was not the one who pulled the trigger. Another example of how your child could be charged with felony murder without actually killing someone would be if your child stole a vehicle for their friends to use to commit a burglary, and during the burglary, one of their friends commits a murder. Even though your child was not present for the burglary and did not kill anyone, your child would still be an accomplice to the burglary and could, therefore, be charged with felony murder for the killing that occurred during the course of the burglary. Other felonies that can lead to a felony murder charge if someone is killed during their attempt or commission are robbery, arson, kidnapping, sexual battery, aggravated child abuse or aggravated abuse of the elderly or disabled, carjacking, aggravated fleeing and eluding with serious bodily injury or death, and resisting an officer with violence. Felony murder charges against someone who did not actually commit the killing are second-degree murder charges and punishable by up to life in prison.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
-Nelson Mandela

Amanda M. Kennedy*

I.    Introduction
During the 2014-2015 school year, more than 2,000 children between the ages of five and ten years old were arrested for behavioral problems in Florida.  Legal experts say scenes of children being handcuffed inside classrooms play out too often in Central Florida. On May 21, 2015 Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 378 2015 which took effect October 1st, 2015. The bill expanded juvenile civil citation by allowing law enforcement officers to issue a civil citation or participation in a similar diversion program to youth who have committed up to three misdemeanors.  Furthermore, the bill also stated that if an arrest is made, law enforcement must provide written documentation as to why the arrest is warranted.

The purpose of this note is to understand the criminalization of our children that is happening in our schools, to consider the changes made to Florida Statute § 985.12 by way of Senate Bill 378, and to propose additional changes that can be implemented to help combat the prison pipeline issue. Part I discusses what is happening in the schools and the alarming arrest rates of young children. Part II examines the effects that arrests have on young children emotionally and educationally. Part III discusses the original Florida Statute Prior to Senate Bill 378. Part IV identifies the specific amendments to the statute and discusses the positive effects of Senate Bill 378. Part V discusses the original approach to delinquency in the schools: “zero tolerance” policies. Lastly, Part VI discusses additional changes that could be made to legislation in order to combat the issue of excessive arrests in schools in the State of Florida and nationwide.  Although the recent change in legislation is a step in the right direction, it does not completely resolve the issue of an egregious amount of child arrests within Florida schools and across our nation. Was Senate Bill 378 the solution, or just the first step in the right direction of educating our children instead of criminalizing them

I.    The Issue: Alarming Arrest Rates
Over 2,000 children were arrested during the 2014-2015 school year, for behavioral problems. The more shocking numbers are the ages of those 2,000 arrests; Orange County, Florida leads the state of Florida in child arrests between the ages of five and ten. “Florida A&M University, Dean LeRoy Pernell, says ‘according to the Department of Juvenile Justice, the bulk of arrests of five and ten-year-olds were not for serious crimes like murder or arson.’” “Maybe fist fights, dress code violations, talking back; conduct that is basically viewed as insubordinate.” The problem is Central Florida schools offer more police officers in hallways than behavioral tutors or counselors — officers whose only tool is to make an arrest. Continue reading

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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.

Earl from Mesquite
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
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
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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