JJ was age 17 when, on November 15, 2005, law enforcement was called regarding an incident which allegedly took place at home between JJ and his stepfather, at their home just north of Fort Pierce.
The family considered the matter closed, but the State Attorney’s office saw fit to charge JJ in juvenile court with felony battery. The felony charge was based upon his prior plea to simple battery for a schoolhouse prank: he pulled a chair from behind another student when he was 12 years old.
JJ’s family resolved to assist him in any way possible and retained Attorney Garland for this purpose.
A consensus was reached that juvenile court was not the proper forum for the charge. This decision was based, in part, upon the juvenile judge’s previous treatment of JJ. JJ did not wish to go before the juvenile judge again, nor did he wish for the juvenile judge to determine whether or not he was guilty.
Attorney Jeffrey Garland filed a Motion to Transfer for Prosecution as an Adult under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 8.105 and Florida Statute 95.226. The juvenile judge had no discretion and, therefore, granted the Motion. See C.D. v. State, 915 So.2d 664 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2005).
Upon transfer of the case to St. Lucie County adult circuit court, the defense was prepared to assert that a prior juvenile conviction would not qualify as a “prior conviction” under the enhancement provision of Section 984.03, Florida Statutes. All persons who were present during the incident would, it was believed, assert that no criminal conduct took place. The State wound up entering a nolle prosequi of the juvenile charge and failed to take any further action to pursue the matter in adult court. All charges against JJ were dropped.