One of the most powerful statutes in Florida Criminal Law is statute 958.04, which is referred to as the “Y.O” statute. This law allows judges to give a person a reduced sentence if he or she is between the ages of 18 and 21 at the time of his or her sentencing. The person who is facing criminal charges can only use the “youthful offender” status once, and it’s up to the judge to determine whether he or she qualifies.
The youthful offender statute gives a judge much more discretion and power over younger people who are being sentenced. Enactment of this statute is the judge’s choice. If an offender is within the correct age range, the judge can depart from the mandatory sentencing guideline at his or her discretion. More importantly, the judge can depart from the very serious minimum mandatory requirement that often comes into play when a crime is committed with a firearm. If you or a family member is charged with a very serious crime and the offender is between 18 and 21 years of age, it is
very important to explore this option with your attorney. This statute is a huge blessing for individuals who are accused of committing a crime at a young age when their minds may not be fully mature.
The youthful offender statute can aid in drastically reducing the punishment that someone will face in a criminal case. However, the key is to have an experienced lawyer who can present a convincing argument to the judge regarding why the youthful offender statute should be enacted. The law requires a person to enter a plea of “guilty” or “no contest” prior to the court’s decision on whether to impose what is known as a “youthful offender sentence.” However, doing so can be a huge gamble and should be done only with the advice of a criminal defense lawyer.
You can read the full statute here:
Please call me at my office in Orlando, Florida at (407)-415-9626, if you have questions about your criminal defense case.