Staying Calm In Court

I'm Being Tried As An Adult: Why Juvenile's Are Sometimes Brought Into The Legal System

When people under the age of 18 commit crimes, they are treated differently than adults. Their trials follow a different circumstance and they usually receive different punishments. However, some circumstances cause juvenile's to be tried as adults. Why does this happen? And how can it be defended?

Most Juvenile Crimes Are Processed Differently

Juvenile's get certain rights and protections because of their lack of some constitutional rights. This might seem harsh, but they actually don't have the right to a trial by a jury of their peers. They also don't have the right to bail or a public trial. To help offset this lack of rights (granted only to adults over the age of 18), juvenile's receive certain protections when they commit crime.

For example, their cases are heard by a judge, rather than a jury, and their records are erased once they turn 18. The idea here is to protect them from being punished too heavily for crimes they may have been too young to fully understand. That said, in some instances, juvenile's are actually tried as adults.

Crime Severity Can Impact The Decision

In circumstances where the crime committed by a teen or child is very severe, they are often tried as adults. This is usually the circumstance when they have planned and committed very deliberate murder. In one 2003 case, a 16-year old girl was tried for first-degree murder and sent to prison for life for shooting her parents with a rifle when they denied her the right to stay with her boyfriend overnight.

However, murder is not the only crime for which a juvenile can be tried as an adult. Many states are getting tougher on drug laws and have pursued prosecution in adult courts for teens who were selling of distributing drugs. In these circumstances, it is very difficult to defend these types of cases.

Defending This Type Of Case

The best defense in a case like this is to prevent it from ever reaching the adult courts. Arguments that a juvenile did not know what they were doing or didn't understand the consequences of their actions are crucial. For example, it can be argued that they were under the influence of someone else or were forced to do a criminal act.

Arguing that a juvenile is not competent to stand trial is also another path. This will require arguing that they are not mentally advanced enough for their age to understand their actions. Again, this is a hard route because it can be tough to prove without expert medical testimony. In cases like this, it is important to hire a professional criminal attorney from a place like Alexander & Associates, P.C. and to have them find the best possible solution.