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Teens tried as adults raise questions about justice system

| Sep 28, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

Usually, in a criminal case the defendant’s age effects the sentence. Minors – individuals under the age of 18—generally go through the juvenile court system, and if convicted, they receive reduced sentences with different than an adult would for the same crime.

However, this isn’t always the case. In certain situations, prosecutors decide that minors facing certain charges may be tried as adults. This is practice is controversial because children aged just 16 or 17 end up receiving harsh sentences – such as life in prison — that many believe should be reserved only for adults.

Minors are usually only sentenced as adults if the alleged crime is deemed very serious.  For example, in a recent case, two girls face charges of armed robbery and murder after allegedly shooting a man during an attempted home invasion and robbery. The pair will now be tried as adults. The prosecutors found this was warranted based on both precedent and the nature of the crimes in question.

In addition to questions about fairness of facing adult-level sentences if convicted, these cases also attract so much media attention that many believe the verdicts are swayed not by the law or the criminal defense, but by television and talk radio.

Defending against serious accusations

Due to the severity of the crimes, the accused are often convicted in the mind of the public before a trial takes place; continuous, and often biased, media coverage can create a vicious cycle that requires a strong counterbalance in the form of an experienced defense attorney.

With such heightened stakes, ensuring the strongest possible defense is vital to securing the accused’s rights against the state’s actions and that the person facing charges receives a fair trial before an impartial jury. Along with reviewing the facts of the case, a defense attorney will take a hard look at the actions of the police and prosecutor during the investigation to build the staunchest case available.