Even if a child is under the age of 18, the State Attorney’s office can choose to direct file with the adult court. The state has the power to allow the child to be prosecuted in the juvenile system or transfer them to adult court. The difference may not seem drastic, but it is. Generally, more severe charges are the ones that are direct filed. The state looks at the child’s background and can send them to adult court. That child now has a criminal record that absent certain circumstances, stays with them forever. If the case remains in Juvenile, those criminal proceedings are not subject to public disclosure (with some exceptions).
The true downside to direct filing, is that the State has no check or balance. It is their decision, and theirs alone. A judge cannot return the child to the juvenile system. The one saving grace is that a Judge can sentence a child in the adult system to juvenile sanctions. The state attorney’s office in Escambia County leads the rest of the state by prosecuting 1 out of every 20 juveniles as an adult. The rest of the counties in Florida are 1 in 50.
Hire an experienced attorney to represent your child. It is one of the best decisions you can make to invest in their future.