Law Offices of Jess C. Bedore III - Certified Specialist in Criminal Law
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Should juveniles be treated differently than adults in court?

Should juveniles really be treated differently than adults for the same crimes? While many people agree that they should, the truth is that there is a reason why they are not tried and penalized in the same ways. Juveniles make mistakes and don't always understand the full consequences of their actions. By giving them different punishments, the courts can work to rehabilitate them instead of penalizing them in a way that could affect them for the rest of their lives.

For example, a teen accused of robbing a store might be given community service to see others in need and be made to pay for the merchandise that was stolen. A teen who drove under the influence would lose his or her license and pay a fine that he or she must work off, making that teen understand the value of obeying the law.

In some cases, the court can decide to try a juvenile as an adult, but the cases where this happens are few and far between. Typically, the case would need to be extremely malicious for the court to consider a trial as an adult.

As of 2017, the most serious penalty any juvenile can receive in the juvenile court system is life in prison without parole. The death penalty was taken off the table, because it was believed to be a cruel and unusual punishment for someone under the age of 18. The Supreme Court has also ruled that mandatory life sentences are not allowed for juveniles, because the penalty would be cruel and unusual for a person who does not yet have a fully developed brain.

If your child is accused of a crime, you should take some comfort in knowing that those under 18 can't face the death penalty and are normally treated differently by law. Your attorney can help you understand what kinds of penalties your son or daughter faces.

Source: Communities Digital News, "Punishment for juvenile crime – should it be different?," Paul Samakow, accessed Jan. 27, 2017

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