Florida Youthful Offender Statute - Aaron Delgado & Associates

Florida Youthful Offender Statute

by Aaron Delgado
09/25/20 (Updated: 09/14/21)

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.

Youthful Offender Statute Eligibility in Volusia County

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:

  • Is at least 18 years of age or has been transferred for prosecution to the criminal division of the circuit court;
  • Is found guilty of or has tendered, and the court has accepted, a plea of nolo contendere or guilty to a crime that is, under Florida laws, a felony if the offender is younger than 21 years of age at the time sentence is imposed; and
  • Has not previously been classified as a youthful offender under the provisions of this act.

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:

  • 24 years old or under with a sentence of 10 years or less; or
  • 19 years old or under with a sentence of more than 10 years and considered a vulnerable inmate whose safety may be jeopardized in an adult institution.

An individual who has been found guilty of a life or capital felony is disqualified from being sentenced as a youthful offender.

Sentencing Under Florida Youthful Offender Statute

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:

  • Up to six years of probation or in a community control program, with or without an adjudication of guilt. The period of probation or community control cannot exceed the maximum sentence for the offense for which the youthful offender was found guilty;
  • Up to 364 days of incarceration in a county facility, a department probation and restitution center, or a community residential facility owned and operated by any public or private entity providing such services as a condition of probation or community control;
  • Split sentence involving probation or community control upon completion of any specified period of incarceration. The period of incarceration cannot exceed four years, and the combined period of probation or community control and incarceration cannot exceed six years; or
  • Up to six years in custody of the Department of Corrections, provided that any such commitment does not exceed the maximum sentence for the offense for which the youthful offender has been convicted.

Volusia County Violations of Probation Under Youthful Offender Statute

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:

  • Substantive probation violations often feature youthful offenders who have been arrested or charged with a new offense while on probation; or
  • Technical probation violations usually include youthful offenders who have failed to follow certain terms or conditions of their probation, including letting probation officers know about changes of address, leaving the county without receiving permission, or by a failure to pay fines or court fees.

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.

Daytona Beach Youthful Offender Lawyer

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.

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