Can my juvenile conviction be used against me in my adult criminal case?
There are a lot of misconceptions about how juvenile charges work and how they effect charges later on in life. Most people view juvenile charges and convictions as being not very serious. However, juvenile convictions can sometimes have a large impact if one gets into trouble as an adult.
Prosecutors will have access to all your criminal history when they are determining what an appropriate plea offer should be. The criminal history includes convictions, arrests without a conviction, out-of-state charges, and juvenile charges.
The outcome, type, and number of charges will be weighed along with the facts to make a plea offer. Juvenile convictions are used in this determination as if they were committed by an adult.
There are limits, however, set out by the Florida legislature on the use of juvenile priors for felony scoresheets. A scoresheet is something a prosecutor uses to calculate a potential felony sentence.
Under Florida law, juvenile priors can only be used on a scoresheet if they occurred within the last 5 years (10 years if it was a sex crime).
For example, if a person committed a burglary when he was 16 and then committed a grand theft when he was 20, then the burglary will be scored on the scoresheet as a prior when determining the guidelines for the grand theft charge. As far as points go, a scoresheet does not give different points for juvenile crimes, they are scored the same as those committed by an adult. This can be significant because juvenile priors can be the reason a scoresheet determines a person should go to prison.