Criminal Defense Attorney - Juvenile
To successfully defend against criminal charges in St. Johns County you need a St. Augustine criminal defense attorney with courtroom experience. Attorney Christy Opsahl is a former prosecutor with extensive trial experience. She handles a variety of criminal offenses including misdemeanors, felonies, and juvenile delinquency.
Ms. Opsahl has experience handling cases with a variety of sentencing enhancements, such as Habitual Felony Offender (HFO), Habitual Violent Felony Offender (HVFO), Violent Career Criminals, 10-20-Life, and Prison Releasee Reoffenders (PRR).
Juvenile offenses are heard in a separate court than adult criminal court (with the exception of traffic offenses). There are separate and distinct rules and statutes for the prosecution of juveniles in delinquency court. The penalties for a juvenile who is adjudicated delinquent can be severe and greatly impact their future. The Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) is heavily involved in juvenile delinquency proceedings and will make recommendations to the State Attorney as well as the court. The purpose of juvenile delinquency court is to make an attempt to rehabilitate a juvenile offender before punishment. Juvenile offenses include misdemeanor and felony offenses, drug offenses, weapons offenses, assault/battery, domestic abuse, sexual offenses, theft, vandalism, burglary, trespass, and all other criminal violations of the law excluding traffic offenses.
The penalties for a juvenile accused of a crime can range from a diversion program, probation, low-risk commitment facility, moderate risk commitment facility, or high-risk commitment facility. The severity of the crime, as well as the criminal record of the juvenile, will determine the outcome of an adjudication of delinquency. If the charges are dismissed pursuant to a diversion program or result in a withhold of adjudication, then the juvenile may be eligible for their criminal record to be expunged. Unlike adult court with proscribed maximum penalties, a juvenile who is adjudicated delinquent may be subject to the court’s jurisdiction until their 19th or 21st birthday depending on the crime. This means that a 13-year-old may be on probation for 6 years in juvenile court. This could affect applying to college or getting a job.
There are certain juvenile offenses that can result in a suspension of driving privileges. Florida Law allows for juveniles to be tried as an adult and subject to adult penalties such as prison in some cases. The severity of the crime and the age of the juvenile will determine whether the State has the authority to charge a juvenile as an adult. While the penalties associated with juvenile prosecution may be different from adult court, the enhancements such as weapons and collateral consequences are often the same.
Christy has experience on both sides of the law as a former prosecutor and defense attorney to guide you through the risks and rewards of plea negotiations, motion practice, and taking your case to trial. Juvenile offenses have unique legal and factual issues that need to be analyzed by an attorney familiar with these specific rules and statutes, investigations, forensic evidence, constitutional issues, discovery, and with trial experience in this area of law.