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Broward Teen Pleads Not Guilty To Manslaughter After Fatal Collision


Few experiences are more frightening than being accused of a crime, no matter your age.  The juvenile courts state their mission as to connect young people with the guidance and resources they need to live as law-abiding adults, although how well they achieve this goal is debatable.  Besides the differences in terminology, several key differences separate the juvenile courts from the criminal courts where adults are charged and tried.  Convictions (technically called “adjudications of delinquency”) issued by juvenile courts do not stay on your record permanently, but defendants in juvenile court do not have the right to a jury trial.  When a teen is accused of a crime, going to juvenile court is a better scenario than going to adult criminal court, and hiring a West Palm Beach juvenile crimes lawyer is better than not hiring one.

When Do the Courts Charge Teens as Adults?

When a minor gets accused of a crime, whether he or she gets charged as a juvenile or an adult depends on the minor’s age and prior interactions with the juvenile court system, if any, as well as on the nature of the alleged offense.  Children aged 13 or younger can only go through juvenile court; Florida law allows police to arrest children as young as seven years old.  For teens 14 and older, the court charges them as juveniles for most crimes, but there are 21 felony offenses where it is up to the prosecutors’ discretion whether to charge the young defendant as a juvenile or an adult.  These include murder, manslaughter, sexual battery, and use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime, among others.

Auto theft is one of the more common juvenile crimes, but a recent case in Florida has resulted in adult charges for the 15-year-old defendant.  This past summer, Jah’kobe Bessent and Jacory Fluornoy, who were 15 and 13 at the time, allegedly stole a car from a residential garage in Fort Lauderdale.  As police pursued them through Oakland Park, they increased their speed, eventually causing the collision that claimed the life of Maria Telez-Valderrabano, the 35-year-old mother of two daughters and a son.

Both teens had previous interactions with the criminal justice system.  Bessent is being tried as an adult; he faces charges for manslaughter, burglary, driving without a license, and fleeing the scene of an accident involving death, among other charges.  He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which means that he could face a long prison sentence if convicted on all counts.  Because of his age, Fluornoy’s case must go through juvenile court.

Contact a West Palm Beach Crimes Lawyer Today

Attorney William Wallshein has more than 38 years of experience, including five years as a prosecutor in Palm Beach County.  Contact William Wallshein P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida to discuss your case.




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