By Kortney Daly
Orange County Sheriff’s Office arrested a seventeen year old for second-degree murder of sixteen year old, De’Shayla Ferguson. He was also arrested for the killing of a unborn child because Ms. Ferguson was twenty weeks pregnant at the time of her death.
Under Florida Law, a person can be charge for the killing of an unborn child by injury to the mother. Since the Juvenile is facing a second-degree murder charge for Ms. Ferguson, he is facing a first degree felony for the killing of the unborn child. A first degree felony is punishable up to 30 years in prison if the teen is charged as an adult.
The News Articles on this incident name the arrested teen because they believe the juvenile will be charged as an adult. The decision to charge the Juvenile as an adult is solely up to the State Attorney’s Office in Orange County. If the State attorney’s Office files charges against a juvenile as an adult, it is called a “Direct File.” A child can be Direct-filed at the ages of 14 or 15 for certain violent offenses including manslaughter and murder. A child can be direct filed at that ages of 16 or 17 for any felony regardless of criminal history.
Given the seriousness of the allegations in this case, it is highly likely that the State Attorney’s Office will Direct File the juvenile in this case. Many factors go into making that decision. The two biggest things at play are the seriousness of the offense and the juvenile’s criminal history. In Cases of Murder, the seriousness of the offense far outweighs any lack of criminal history. The facts of the case and the age of the child are considered as well. The fact that Ms. Ferguson was pregnant and that a firearm was involved will likely be aggravating factors that will weigh against the juvenile when the State Attorney is making a decision to Direct file.
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