Grand theft is a felony charge. For a Florida third-degree grand theft conviction, you may face a sentence of 5 years in prison or on probation, in addition to a fine. However, if you receive probation, you need to be aware that there are certain conditions you’ll need to meet. Even if the defendant is a juvenile, failure to meet those conditions can result in penalties.
In a recent Miami appellate decision, the juvenile defendant appealed two contempt orders and sentencing. These were imposed because the court had found he’d committed indirect contempt of court by repeatedly violating home detention orders. It was determined that the lower court didn’t violate the statutory blueprint of chapter 985 of the Florida Statutes as related to a juvenile who’d been committed to the Florida Department of Juvenile.
The case arose when the court found the juvenile, who was 14 at the time, delinquent in five different matters, including petit theft charges and strong-arm robbery. He was placed at a minimum risk nonresidential restrictiveness level under Florida Statutes section 985.441(1)(b). This meant he’d live at home with his mom and go to a day treatment program.
However, the juvenile’s conduct problems continued. He didn’t go to the day treatment program. He was arrested for a new grand theft charge. He was placed on home detention with an electronic monitor on his ankle. The plan was that the monitor would be removed once his home life stabilized. Over the summer, before the trial, his conduct got worse.
The juvenile violated the home detention by going away from home. He cut the monitor and disappeared for a month. He returned to court and was again ordered to home detention with electronic monitoring. He was told he could face contempt of court if he again violated the order.
He violated the detention order related to grand theft. Affidavits were filed related to continuing violations. The court was asked to find him in contempt and to put him in secure detention. A contempt hearing was held. The juvenile was found guilty of 10 out of 12 charges. The lower court deferred sentencing and he was admonished to follow rules related to the earlier home detention orders.
He was yet again charged with grand theft, burglary and resisting an officer without violence. Another show cause order was entered. He was eventually found guilty of 3 out of 5 charges in the show cause order. A Judgment of Guilt-contempt was entered. He was sentenced to 140 days of secure detention. The juvenile faced concurrent sentences for two of 10 counts such that the net sentence would be 125 days. He appealed.
On appeal, he argued that the only disciplinary remedy that was appropriate was for the DJJ to hold a transfer hearing under section 985.441(4), and he argued that the lower court wasn’t authorized to enter the home detention order.
The appellate court found that Chapter 985 authorized the home detention orders at issue. Once the juvenile had been committed to a Minimum Risk Non-Residential Program, his treatment and rehabilitation were covered by Florida Statutes section 985.441(1)(b). When commitment doesn’t serve to rehabilitate, the DJJ can invoke a transfer option to find another program. There’s no explicit direction about putting a committed child in secure or nonsecure detention under Chapter 985.
When the juvenile came before the court the second time, he wasn’t just a child committed to care, but also facing a grand theft charge, a new felony charge. The appellate court reasoned that Section 985.03(18) didn’t exclude a committed child from being placed in detention care, even if he was also committed to DJJ. The appellate court concluded the home detention orders were authorized, and the contempt and sentencing resulting from the violation of the orders were affirmed.
Theft is a serious charge. If you’re accused of, investigated for or charged with a theft crime in Miami, you should hire a skillful criminal defense attorney. Call The Hoffman Law Firm at (305) 928-1669, or contact us via our online form.