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Florida students and parents: Take criminal charges seriously

Young people make some bad decisions and silly mistakes when they are growing up. Teenagers in particular push boundaries, take risks and engage in behaviors they know are wrong because of peer pressure, the desire to rebel or because they simply do not appreciate the fact that actions have consequences.

Young people in general are still trying to learn things about life; sometimes they have to learn the hard way that acting out or breaking the rules comes with penalties. However, learning the hard way doesn't have to mean that a youthful indiscretion will destroy their futures.

Many people -- including people in the criminal justice system -- believe that punishing juveniles as harshly as possible will teach them a lesson and make it less likely for them to make the same mistake again. 

However, studies show this is actually not true. In fact, research has found that putting a youthful offender into a detention facility even for a short time increases the chances he or she will commit another crime upon release and has a detrimental impact on their development and mental health.

Let's consider, for example, a young man who gets in trouble for possession of cocaine. He likely thought it was no big deal but a judge sees it differently and puts him in jail so he can learn his lesson. While in jail, the young man misses out on high school events, loses focus of college aspirations and spends most of his days with criminals. Upon his release, he can be discouraged and embarrassed and struggle to get back on track.

This is the situation that many young people in Florida face when they get in trouble for a breaking the law. In the blink of an eye, their entire future can be changed dramatically.

Defending against juvenile charges is not the same as saying that what a young person may have done is okay; it is a way to ensure a student's rights are not violated and they are not subjected to overly harsh penalties. With the help of a defense attorney, students can work to have their charges reduced or dismissed and pursue alternatives to detention.

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Jason Rogozinski

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