Click here to open MENU
Available 24 Hours - FREE Consultations
Experienced, Aggressive Defense
Over 50 Years Combined Experience
Handling All State and Federal Crimes
Practicing 100% Criminal Defense

Children in Adult Criminal Court


If your child has been arrested or is under an investigation for a crime in Melbourne, Brevard County, or anywhere in Central Florida, your best protection is to retain an aggressive and experienced juvenile crimes defense attorney at the earliest possible stage in their case.

Overview of Children in Adult Criminal Court

Florida is one of fifteen (15) states that give prosecutors the discretion to charge children as adults. Known as the “direct file law,” Florida law allows prosecutors to charge 14 and 15-year-old children in adult court for certain serious felonies, and 16 and 17-year-old children for any felony at all. The prosecutor’s decision to send a child to adult court via direct file is done without any input from the judge and cannot be appealed. However, Florida law dictates the circumstances under which a prosecutor may or must charge a child as an adult. Specifically, it determines under what circumstances prosecutors have discretion to direct file and when direct filing is mandatory.

Discretionary Direct File

Discretionary direct file occurs, with respect to a child 14 or 15-years-old at that time of the alleged offense, when the State Attorney elects to file charges in adult court. The State Attorney has the discretion to charge these children as adults if he/she determines that the public interest requires that adult sanctions be considered or imposed AND when the offense charged is for the commission of, attempt to, or conspiracy to commit the following crimes:

Discretionary direct file also occurs, with respect to a child who is 16 or 17-years-old at the time of the alleged offense, when the State Attorney determines that that public interest requires that adult sanctions be considered. Florida law prohibits such filing for a child charged with a misdemeanor, unless he or she had at least two (2) previous adjudications or adjudications withheld, at least one of which was a felony.

Mandatory Direct File

Under some circumstances, Florida law requires the State to charge a juvenile as an adult. Unless the prosecutor has good cause to believe that exceptional circumstances exist to preclude prosecuting the child in adult court, the State must file charges in adult court under the following circumstances:

Direct filing is a very serious consequence of very serious crimes. Rather than being prosecuted in the juvenile system, which operates to rehabilitate children, children are forced into the adult criminal justice system, the primary goal of which is strict punishment. Without aggressive, skilled legal representation, your child could be placed in adult jail, deprived of age-appropriate programs, and subjected to life-altering sentences.

The Canina Law Firm | Juvenile Offense Attorneys

A juvenile should never go into the legal system alone. If your child has been arrested in Melbourne or anywhere in Brevard County, Florida, for a misdemeanor or felony offense.  CONTACT The Canina Law Firm today for your FREE Case Evaluation.

Brevard County Florida Criminal Defense Attorney

The Canina Law Firm proudly defends all residents of Brevard County and all cities and towns along Florida’s Space Coast including: Melbourne, Viera, Suntree, West Melbourne, Melbourne Village, Palm Shores, Palm Bay, Rockledge, Merritt Island, Titusville, Cape Canaveral, Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, Melbourne Beach, Indialantic, Indian Harbour Beach, Satellite Beach, Grant, Valkaria, Micco, Barefoot Bay, Scottsmoor, Mims, and Sebastian, as well as neighboring Volusia County, Seminole County, Orange County, Osceola County, and Indian River County, FL.

Your Defense Starts NOW! CONTACT us today for a FREE Case Evaluation!


Richard G. CaninaReviewsout of 34 reviews

Memberships & Achievements