Should Juveniles be tried as Adults?

Topics: Crime, Court, Criminology Pages: 5 (2030 words) Published: February 3, 2014

Should Juveniles be tried as Adults?

Should Juveniles be Tried as Adults?
The law states that any person under the age of 18 is classified to be a juvenile and when they commit a crime they are tried in the juvenile court system. Although this is true with most cases there are times when the state will allow youths under the age of 18 to be tried as adults. This differs from state to state as each state has their own rulings. If a juvenile is tried as an adult they will stay classified that way and will be tried for any other offenses even if they are still juveniles as an adult. According to Stalans, & Henry (1994, p. 675-6) “they state that policymakers believe that juvenile justice system should take care of all problems that have to do with juveniles and shape them into productive law abiding citizens. In contrast the adult courts are aimed at punishing offenders.” States have the option at what age a person is classified to be an adult and many had 16 years of age as the time that the person will be tried as an adult. Many states that do have the 16 year old as an adult are changing this from 16 to 18. According to Mosi Secret, (2011) in an article written in the New York Times (2011, p. 1) “as many states change the rule from 16 to 18 years of age New York may be the only state left where adulthood in criminal matters starts at the 16th birthday.” The reason for this change is that a consensus is emerging that the young delinquents have been mishandled by the adult court system. These changes were from studies showing that older adolescents differ from adults in making sound decisions and benefit more on treatment then incarceration (Mosi Secret, 2011, p. 1). The issue about the age has been under debate in New York since the other states have changed their ages to 18 years to be tried as an adult. According to Mosi Secret (2011, p. 1) “New York led the charge to crack down on juvenile crime after a 15-year-old named Willie Bosket shot and killed two people in the New York City subway in 1978. Mr. Bosket received a five-year sentence, the maximum for a juvenile, inciting outrage. Legislators quickly passed the Juvenile Offender Act, which lowered the age of adulthood to 13 in all murder cases, and 14 for other major felonies; the age was left at 16 for other crimes.” This law has not been change since it was enacted back in 1978 and is still one of the few if not the only state that has the 16 year old as an adult. For many years until the nineteenth century children and adults were tried alike and there was no distinction between the two. After the nineteenth century laws were put into effect to protect the rights of children and the age of 18 was the distinguishing age when a child becomes an adult. What the system provided juveniles was a program to rehabilitate them as they felt that many needed this sort of help. When a juvenile commits a crime that the courts feel they should be tried as an adult there are ways that the court has to transfer the juvenile from juvenile court to adult court. According to Flesch, L. M. (2004, p. 583-4) there are three ways that a juvenile offender can be charged as an adult: “The first way is by legislative waiver. Legislative waiver occurs when a particular state has a statute that outlines specific offenses that will automatically lead to a juvenile being charged as an adult.' ‘These offenses are usually particularly heinous crimes like murder” (Flesch, L. M., 2004, p. 583-4). “The second way a juvenile may be charged as an adult is by prosecutorial waiver. This type of waiver gives the prosecutor discretion to present to a judge why he or she believes that a particular juvenile should be charged as an adult" (Flesch, L. M., 2004, p. 583-4). “The third way is by judicial waiver. Judicial waiver is the most common method of transfer in this country and occurs when...

References: Dozortseva, E. G. (2009) Forensic psychiatric and psychological assessment of minor
Offender, Clinical and forensic psychology,
Reaves, Jessica (2001) Should the Law Treat Kids and Adults Differently? Times USA
Secret, Mosi (2011) States Prosecute Fewer Teenagers in Adult Courts, New York Times,
Stalans, L. J., & Henry, G. T. (1994). Societal views of justice for adolescents accused of
murder: Inconsistency between community sentiment and automatic legislative
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