This change was made to increase access to mental health services, drug treatments, and rehabilitation for young people charged with a misdemeanor. However, individuals age 17 and older will still be tried as an adult for felony charges.
The severity of a crime determines whether it is considered a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanors can include petty theft, consuming alcohol under the legal age, and possession of small amounts of drugs. Recent laws have increased the cut off age for misdemeanors in juvenile law to 17.
Those individuals age 17 and under charged with a misdemeanor will not be subject to adult criminal law.? In previous years, misdemeanor cases for young people who went through the adult system were often dropped completely or not given serious consideration. The juvenile system has many resources to help teenagers that the adult system would not provide. These mental health, substance abuse, education, and trauma services give young offenders the opportunity to improve their lives instead of being swept under the adult system.
Having an adult record would also make it harder for these teens to go to school and find a job.? The offense would stay on their records if tried as an adult while in juvenile law it would not. Some experts even argue that teens are not mentally or emotionally developed enough to handle being part of the adult system.? This would only have further negative impacts on their future instead of providing them with resources to better themselves like in juvenile law. Increasing the cut off age for juvenile law to 17 has allowed for more young people to receive help to improve their future, instead of receiving a slap on the wrist in the adult system.
Felonies, as opposed to misdemeanors, are serious offenses.? Individuals age 17 and older will still be tried as an adult if they are charged with a felony.? Supporters of the new law hope that 17 year olds facing felony charges will be able to go through the juvenile system in future years as well.
The adult system focuses on punishment, while juvenile law focuses on providing resources to correct bad behavior.? The way the law works now, a felony committed by a 17-year-old will be held against them for the rest of their lives. If they were in the juvenile system, they would be given tools to improve themselves to have a better future.
Another concern with trying 17-year-olds as adults for felony charges is that going through the adult system puts them in contact with other criminals. This type of interaction can negatively affect their futures, while the services provided in juvenile law would improve their futures.
Any situation that involves a young person getting in trouble with the law can be difficult and complicated. For more information on juvenile law, contact the experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers at Sherer Law Offices.