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Instagram Posts Could Lead to Minor Being Charged as Adult

The Miami Herald reported on March 23 that a 16-year-old was arrested after detectives found “drugs, stolen credit cards, and a realistic-looking silver BB revolver” during a raid his Southwest Miami-Dade home this month. According to the Herald, the teenager was “only the latest example of someone arrested after South Florida investigators used Instagram and social media to track their suspected crimes.” 

Investigators began monitoring the minor’s Instagram account in January, and police told the Herald that the teenager’s four prior convictions did not stop him from “using Instagram to sell drugs and post pics of himself preening with pistols.” Numerous Instagram posts featured the teenage posing with guns that he was prohibited from possessing, and he allegedly used Instagram’s “Stories” feature—similar to Snapchat, involving videos and photos that disappear soon after being viewed—to sell Xanax. 

The Herald reported that the teenager remained in juvenile custody and prosecutors would have to decide whether to charge the minor an adult. The minor had been arrested six times in the juvenile justice system over the past three years. Three of those arrests were for car break-ins, and the teenager was convicted, or adjudicated “delinquent,” on four of the charges.

Miami Juvenile Defense Attorney

Prosecutors in Florida may be required to transfer the cases of certain minors (usually involving specific alleged violent crimes) to adult courts through a process called “direct file.” Unfortunately, even minors accused of some non-violent offenses have their cases transferred to adult courts and face much more serious consequences. 

According to the Times, Department of Juvenile Justice statistics indicate that almost 10,000 adult transfers have been filed in Florida since 2011. The Times noted a 2016 study by the James Madison Institute that found Florida has the highest number of adult transfers reported by any state. 

Lawmakers in Florida have tried several times in recent years to reduce the number of minors who are prosecuted in adult criminal courts, but such bills failed. The Tampa Bay Times reported on February 27 that a bill being introduced this year would prohibit prosecutors from transferring teens ages 16 and 17 charged with grand theft, burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, or drug possession, require state attorneys to document their decisions for adult transfers, and allow alleged offenders to request hearings to determine if they can return to juvenile court. 

When you or your child are accused of any kind of juvenile offense, it is extremely important to make sure that you have legal representation to avoid any direct file issues. Miami criminal defense lawyer Evan Hoffman will work tirelessly to help you or your child achieve the most favorable outcome to your case, whether it is through an alternative resolution or possibly getting the criminal charges reduced or dismissed.

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