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Child Who Led Police On Chase, Crash Faces Very Grown-Up Charges

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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) -- A Pembroke Pines girl who took her mother's SUV for a joyride leading to a police chase and crash is facing some very grown up charges - fleeing and eluding police.

Wearing a striped dress, the girl stood before a judge in court Tuesday - just 24-hours after landing in juvenile detention.

"You'll have home detention. You're on punishment at home. You must stay there," said Broward Judge Stacy Ross. "Another thing, I'm strictly telling you absolutely no driving in any way shape or form."

With her parents by her side, the girl admitted to the judge she was having a hard time at school. The Public Defenders Office says the behavior was out of character for this honors student whose never had a brush with the law before.

"This young lady is 10-years-old, just turned 11. She is transitioning from elementary school to middle school. She's taking some advanced classes in her sixth grade year and she's just having a hard time dealing with the transition and the stress related to going from a single classroom environment to a multiple classroom environment," said Chief Assistant Public Defender Gordon Weekes.

Just a day before, the 11-year-old's mother called police saying she believed her daughter had been kidnapped in front of their Hollywood home near Taft Street and NW 83rd Way.

The woman said she had given her daughter the keys to her SUV in order for the girl to get a book out of the vehicle. When her daughter didn't come back after about 10 minutes, she went outside and found her and the vehicle gone, prompting her to call the police.

Related: Kidnapping Call Turns Into Minor Misadventure

Authorities located the SUV that led them on a chase. At some point during the chase, police realized the 11-year-old was the only one in the car and behind the wheel. She was allegedly refusing to stop. Police backed off.

The chase ended when the SUV crashed into another car on State Road 84 and Weston Road. She continued to flee after the crash but stopped shortly after.

Officers say the girl was not hurt in the crash and was never a victim of kidnapping.

The driver of the BMW she hit, Richard Champagne, posted pictures of the crash on his Facebook page and wrote, " It was a scary experience but I'm very grateful to God that both of our lives were spared in what could have been a catastrophic accident."

But why did she do it?

"The characterization that there was some type of altercation between her and her mother was not correct. They are a supportive family. She is just a girl who is having difficulty with that transition," said Weekes.

The girl is facing charges of fleeing and eluding police, aggravated fleeing and operating a motor vehicle without a license.  She will be on home detention for the next three weeks and can only leave the house to attend school, church, and court. She will be wearing an ankle-monitoring bracelet.

Public defenders say they are going to do what they can to try to get these charges reduced or completely eliminated.

Ironically, the man that she is accused of hitting used to work for the public defender's office. They say they'll be talking to him and that will have a lot to do with how the case proceeds forward.

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