The given assay seeks to illustrate whether young criminals should be tried and punished as adults. In particular, the paper studies a current legislative position pertaining to a judicial treatment of juveniles and a prosecution of their offenses. Typical instances of referring adolescents to adult courts will be discussed, as well as real stories requiring that a criminal be sent to an adult court.
THESIS: Juvenile offenders should be tried and punished as adults in cases where they have committed serious crimes (homicide, rape) and pose a serious threat to society.
Procedures of Transferring an Adolescent to an Adult Court and Protections Granted
Characteristically, the United States criminal system recognizes two types of criminal courts: adult and juvenile. The first court for trying adolescents turns out to have been set up in Chicago. However, the legislation allows in specific circumstances to bring adolescents to responsibility in adult courts with all their protections and procedures relevant to adult criminals (Ziedenberg 2).
Evidently, within the United States there is no the sole and unified attitude of what age certainly indicates that an individual is to appear before an adult criminal court and be punished as an adult offender. Every state entrenches particular characteristics defining whether a criminal should stand an adult trial or be sent to a juvenile court with its appropriate proceedings. There exists an individual approach to each separate case evolving before judges and prosecutors (Steinberg 1 – 2).
Generally, the United States criminal justice system has developed three certain ways of transferring an adolescent criminal to an adult court: “waivers by a judge or prosecutor” and “automatic transfers” prescribed by criminal statutes (Michon). A judge has the power to refer a young wrongdoer to an adult court in the circumstances where he has committed a severe offense and thus poses a serious threat to a community, or his records prove that he is unlikely to be suitable for a juvenile rehabilitation procedure (Michon).
Despite a judge’s discretion power, a prosecutor is also entitled to ask a judge to transfer a juvenile to an adult court. In such instance, a prosecutor should prove a “probable cause” showing that a young wrongdoer has actually committed a crime. Then, a judge makes a final decision whether to allow a prosecutor’s motion based on the wrongdoer’s records and counts he is charged with (Michon).
According to “automatic transfer” provisions, a juvenile offender is subject to adult trials mandatorily and that is directly laid down by statutes. Not all states provide for “automatic transfers”, but such a procedure is more likely to be instituted when a young criminal is 16 years-old and older and when an offense committed proves to be a homicide or rape (Michon).
As a consequence of the campaign to grant adolescents a full complex of constitutional protections applied in the course of criminal proceedings, a judgment in the case of In re Gault held that juveniles shall be entitled to such protections as “Miranda rights”, right to counsel, safeguard against warrantless searches and seizures, “the right against self-incrimination” (Offices of the United States Attorneys).
Hence, from this it follows that each separate case involving a young criminal will be a subject of a precise consideration on the part of a judge and prosecutor to determine whether an accused may be rehabilitated or it is more reasonable and fairer to send him to an adult court. A court will also decide if an adolescent offender has reached a required cognitive capability to grasp a seriousness of his action to try him as an adult.
Real Stories Proving a Necessity of Trying Adolescents as Adults
Jordan Brown Case
A boy from Pennsylvania, named Jordan Brown, was found guilty and convicted of murder of his father’s fiancée. A girlfriend of his father was determined to have been pregnant and prosecutor contended that Jordan had been” motivated by jealousy” to the fiancée of his father. However, Jordan’s counsel claimed that the victim had likely been killed by her former boyfriend (Chen).
Consequently, Jordan Brown was brought to responsibility as an adult. Currently, he is 17 years-old and is detained in the adolescent detention facility. Due to his good pattern of behavior, Jordan is allowed home visits. An appellate claim has been launched to reverse a previous judgment, because the evidence presented by the prosecution proved to be insufficient (Daley).
Another Young Criminal from Pennsylvania
A boy aged 10 proves to have confessed to killing an old woman – Helen Novak, aged 90 by explaining this event to his mother who brought him to a local police station. This young criminal used a cane: he put it around the woman’s neck and suffocated her. The accused explained that he had been angry due to the woman’s scolding him (Steele).
A medical examination of the killed woman demonstrated that the boy’s testimony had been true. A 10 years-old boy was prosecuted as an adult in accordance with the requirements of Pennsylvania criminal legislation. The boy’s attorney said he would file a motion to have the accused released for he might have mental disorder (Steele).
The cases mentioned above are not the sole ones where adolescents are convicted and punished as adults since their offenses clearly demonstrate that they should be isolated from a public due to a severity of actions committed.
The statement holding that juveniles should be tried and punished as adults in cases where they have committed serious crimes (homicide, rape) and pose a serious threat to society proves to be justified based on real facts and stories showing an enormous cruelty of young wrongdoers. Reasonable law enforcement officials are aware that a small portion of all juvenile offenders constitutes an exception and should be sent to adult courts and a current legislative trend in the United States follows this approach.
Chen, Stephanie. "Boy, 12, Faces Grown up Murder Charges." 15 Mar. 2010. Web. 14 July 2015. <http://edition.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/02/10/pennsylvania.young.murder.defendant/>.
Daley, Elizabeth. "Teen Convicted Of Murder At 11 Seeks New Trial." 5 Mar. 2015. Web. 14 July 2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/06/11-year-old-convicted-of-murder-new-trial_n_6812382.html>.
Michon, Kathleen. "When Juveniles Are Tried in Adult Criminal Court." Web. 15 July 2015. <http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/juveniles-youth-adult-criminal-court-32226.html>.
Offices of the United States Attorneys. "121. Constitutional Protections Afforded Juveniles." Web. 14 July 2015. <http://www.justice.gov/usam/criminal-resource-manual-121-constitutional-protections-afforded-juveniles>.
Steele, Anne. "Why a 10-year-old in Pennsylvania Can Be Tried for Murder as an Adult ( Video)." 14 Oct. 2014. Web. 14 July 2015. <http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2014/1014/Why-a-10-year-old-in-Pennsylvania-can-be-tried-for-murder-as-an-adult-video>.
Steinberg, Laurence. "Should Juvenile Offenders Be Tried As Adults? A Developmental Perspective on Changing Legal Policies." 19 Jan. 2000. Web. 15 July 2015. <http://www.willamette.edu/cla/debate/pdf/youth_forum/kpdc research/motion 2 affirm/bongo_DATA ON JUVENILES.pdf>.
Ziedenberg, Jason. "Youth in Adult Criminal Justice Systems." 1 Dec. 2011. Web. 14 July 2015. <http://static.nicic.gov/Library/025555.pdf>.