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Bills Aimed At Helping Florida's Juvenile Offenders Pass First Senate Panel

MGN Online

A pair of proposals meant to help juvenile offenders passed their first Senate panels.

Rep. Chris Latvala (R-Clearwater) presented for the Senate sponsor, Sen. Nancy Detert (R-Venice). He says the bill stems from a girl in his district who threw an egg at a friend, and later was arrested on a felony charge. Latvala says he’s made similar mistakes in his life, but didn’t have it negatively impact his personal or work life—as it did for other young offenders.

“Since the statute of limitations has long expired, growing up in Jacksonville in high school, we would roll friend’s houses with toilet paper,” said Latvala. “I don’t know if youngsters do that anymore, but back in the 1990s, that was our way of getting back at our friends.”

The bill—which passed the Senate Criminal Justice Committee Monday—aims to streamline the process of expunging the records of minors who are not serious or habitual offenders. It also lowers the age from 24 to 21 for a juvenile to set that process in motion.  Another measure that passed is aimed at allowing judges to have more of a say in charging juveniles as adults. That discretion currently lies with prosecutors.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.