Chapter 958 of Title XLVII to the Florida Statutes are commonly known as the “Florida Youthful Offender Act.” The laws contained within Chapter 958 were created to offer alleged offenders who are too old to still be labeled as a “juvenile,” but are old enough to be charged as an adult, an alternative, less severe sentencing program.
Florida Statute § 958.021 creates the legislative intent of the Florida Youthful Offender Act, and describes the reasoning behind Chapter 958 as being “to improve the chances of correction and successful return to the community of youthful offenders sentenced to imprisonment by providing them with enhanced vocational, educational, counseling, or public service opportunities and by preventing their association with older and more experienced criminals during the terms of their confinement.”
To summarize, the Youthful Offender Act exists as a version of downward departure for certain alleged offenders, so maximum sentences have a capped limit, and judges are allowed to hand down sentences that are less stringent than the statutory minimums.
Being sentenced as a “youthful offender” in Volusia County can be achieved in two ways. Florida Statute § 958.04(1) says that a court can sentence an individual as a youthful offender if they satisfy these requirements:
However, if the court decides to not sentence the offender as a “youth offender,” the Florida Department of Corrections still has the ability to do so, if they so choose. The Department of Corrections can determine an inmate to be a youthful offender if they are:
An individual who has been found guilty of a life or capital felony is disqualified from being sentenced as a youthful offender.
If it is found that a person is eligible to be sentenced as a youthful offender and the court agrees, then an alleged offender will likely receive a far more lenient sentence than they would have received as an adult under traditional sentencing. Florida Statute § 958.04(2) authorizes probation, incarceration, or a combination of the following sentencing options:
If a youth offender is sentenced to probation, they will be expected to fulfill multiple requirements for their probation officer and closely follow the rules of the department. The penalties of a violation of probation depend on if a violation is determined to be substantive or technical.
The distinction between these two forms of violations can have a wide-reaching impact on how the court reacts:
Due to Florida Statute § 958.14, a youthful offender can’t be committed to the custody of the Department of Corrections for a substantive violation for a period of time longer than the maximum sentence for the offense for which they were found guilty, with credit for time served while imprisoned.
In the case of a technical violation, they can’t be committed for a period of time longer than six years, or for a period longer than the maximum sentence for the offense for which they were found guilty, whichever is less, with credit for time served while imprisoned.
If you or a loved one are a young adult who has recently been arrested in Florida, it is extremely important to have skilled and experienced attorneys who can help you face the fewest possible legal penalties. Aaron Delgado & Associates fight to achieve the most positive outcomes for youthful offenders in Volusia County and beyond.
Volusia County youthful offender law attorney Aaron Delgado has an extensive legal background and experience in getting reduced sentences for our clients. Our firm will provide a complete evaluation of your unique case as soon as you call 386-222-6677 to schedule a consultation.