Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer in Broward Defines "Direct File"

July 23, 2017


If a child arrested in Broward County or anywhere else in Florida has their case
"direct-filed", what does that mean precisely? What should I do if my child or that of a loved one is dealing with juvenile charges in Broward County and worse yet, a Direct-File issue do?


First, before you do anything, you should consult immediately with an experienced criminal defense attorney for juveniles like Joseph Bosco. The lawyers in our office have years of experience dealing with Chapter 985, the Juvenile Justice Code.  We also have years of experience practicing in South Florida's Juvenile Courts and Our lawyers have a well-earned reputation as aggressive criminal defense attorneys for juveniles who have been direct-filed in Broward County and all over Florida. The "Direct-File Statue" is serious business and should be treated accordingly. 


Within the context of Florida Juvenile Law, a direct-file refers to juveniles who are charged under the authority of Florida Statute Section 985.557, or, as it known more notoriously, the "Direct-File" Statute. This controversial statute permits, under certain circumstances, for juvenile offenders to have their cases transferred from the Juvenile Criminal Division to the Adult Criminal Division where the juvenile offender will be prosecuted in the same manner as and subject to the same penalties as adult offenders.


There are three ways a juvenile offender can be transferred to the Adult Criminal Division:

1. Indictment - Indictments are usually for offenses that are punishable by death or life imprisonment, and cases where the child is younger than 14 years old.The State of Florida can ask a grand jury to indict a juvenile of any age.


2. Waiver - A waiver motion is made by the prosecutor and basically asks the juvenile court judge to transfer a child that is at least fourteen (14) years of age to the Adult Criminal Division. The juvenile court judge subsequently conducts a hearing and, as part of considering the prosecutor's motion, reviews the child’s criminal history, the instant charge and the child's potential for rehabilitation. The juvenile court judge then either grants or denies the prosecutor’s request. The judge’s decision should be based on relevant legal criteria, the facts of the specific case and the child’s particular circumstances.


While exceedingly rare, a child of any age can also, with the consent of a parent or guardian, also request to be waived into adult court. 


3. Direct-File - There are two (2) types of direct-file, mandatory and discretionary.


Mandatory direct-files originate from state laws that mandate direct-filing of juvenile defendants sixteen (16) years of age and older into adult court for certain criminal charges.  The law allows for no exceptions in these instances and thus, these sorts of direct-files are "mandatory" direct-files.


Discretionary direct-files allow the prosecutor to directly transfer a juvenile defendant fourteen (14) years of age and up for certain criminal charges.  Whether or not transfer a juvenile defendant into adult court is a decision that lies solely with the prosecutor. The prosecutor's decision in this regard is neither appealable nor reviewable, even if the trial judge vehemently disagrees.


Because this decision is solely within the prosecutor's discretion no hearing will take place.  Because the juvenile defendant has been transferred into adult court without benefit of a hearing, there will have been no opportunity for a neutral judge or magistrate to determine whether or not the adult court has services appropriate for the juvenile defendant. Nor will there have been a determination that the particular juvenile defendant was inappropriate for services in a juvenile court.  Should the prosecutor decide to direct-file the juvenile defendant, the charging document will be filed in the Adult Criminal Division.


The Law Offices of Joseph Bosco offers fierce and concentrated resistance in support of juvenile defendants who have had their juvenile charges direct-filed into adult court in Broward County or anywhere else in South Florida and beyond. Allow our office to help your young son or daughter make safe passage through the complexities of their Broward County juvenile criminal charges.  Simply click on the phone number button above to call from your mobile device or desktop, or click the button on your lower right and chat with one of our South Florida Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorneys live right now!  You can also do it the old-fashioned way and simply pick up the phone call our offices at
844-380-HURT.  Do it today. The consultation is always free because at the Law Offices of Joseph Bosco, we are always in your corner.



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