Haddonfield Criminal Lawyer: Charging Juveniles as Adults
A recent murder is renewing the debate over the ability of prosecutors to charge juveniles as adults. On October 3, 2015, an 11 year-old boy shot and killed an eight year-old White Pine, Tennessee girl after she allegedly refused his request to play with her puppy. The District Attorney in Jefferson County, Tennessee is yet to announce whether the child – who obtained the weapon from an unlocked closet in his home – will be tried as an adult or as a juvenile. For now, he remains housed in a juvenile detention center as he awaits a hearing on charges of first-degree murder.
The laws surrounding the availability of adult charges for juveniles are ever-changing. Typically, if a juvenile is under the age of 14 and charged with a misdemeanor or other lesser crime, his or her case will proceed through the juvenile justice system. Juveniles over the age of 14, juveniles charged with first or second-degree crimes, and juveniles with a lengthy criminal record can be tried as adults at the discretion of a prosecutor.
In the 2012 case of State in the Interest of V.A. (A-9/19/20) (068707), however, a divided Supreme Court of New Jersey made it harder than ever to charge a juvenile as an adult. Not only does the ruling clear a path for juveniles to challenge their transfer to adult court from the Superior Court’s Family Division – where juvenile offenders are originally referred – but the Supreme Court of New Jersey went one step further, establishing a new, heightened standard for prosecutors to meet when charging juveniles as adults. According to Haddonfield criminal lawyers, pursuant to State in the Interest of V.A. prosecutors must now demonstrate that trying a juvenile offender as an adult will prevent him or her from re-offending, as well as deter other juveniles from behaving similarly.
Haddonfield Criminal Lawyer Michele Finizio Represents Juveniles Charged as Adults in NJ
Courts and legislators have become increasingly skeptical of the practice of prosecutors charging juveniles as adults, and for good reason. Juveniles inserted into the adult prison system are at an increased risk of suicide, are more likely to be sexually abused than adult inmates and are more likely to re-offend upon their release. If you or a loved one is a juvenile who has been charged as an adult, contact Haddonfield criminal lawyer, Michele Finizio. She understands all aspects of the criminal justice system and fights for the rights of juveniles. Attorney Finizio proudly represents clients throughout the state, including the communities of Cherry Hill, Westmont, Mount Holly and throughout Haddonfield. Call 856-242-7300 or contact us online today.