Arguing Against Kids Being Tried as Adults
Under Nevada law, traditionally even very young children who committed a murder could be tried as an adult for their actions. In 2013, however, laws to transfer rules changed in the state of Nevada. Kolo TV reports on how the modification to the state laws regarding when cases are transferred to adult court have affected one particular case in which a 15-year-old allegedly shot and killed a 16-year-old after a dispute occurred.
Although the laws on moving kids from juvenile to adult court changed because of the unfairness of prosecuting young people as adults, even though their brains are not fully developed and they are not able to make adult decisions, prosecutors opposed the modifications to the rules for juveniles in the criminal justice system.
In the case Kolo TV reported on, the prosecutor is pushing hard to have the teen tired as an adult. This is likely to occur in many situations where young offenders commit crimes. If you are a parent and your child is accused of violating the law, you need to make sure you speak with an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer to find out what options you have for trying to prevent your child’s case from being transferred to adult court.
Kids Should Not be Tried as Adults
There is documented evidence indicating that the decision-making skills of children are not as well-developed as the skills of adults, in large part because the brains of children are not fully developed. Kids do not always understand the long-term implications of their actions and are not always able to control their impulses. Trying children as adults and punishing them with lengthy prison sentences can ruin young lives, which could potentially be rehabilitated.
States have increasingly been making changes to their juvenile justice system in recognition of the special status of child offenders. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case called Miller v. Alabama that it was cruel and unusual punishment, and thus unconstitutional, to impose a mandatory life sentence for an offender under the age of 18. More than 11 states subsequently revised their laws in response to the decision, allowing for parole hearings for young people who serve minimum sentences of around 25-years. There has also been a nationwide push for states to reduce the situations where kids are tried as adults.
Juvenile court provides greater opportunity for judges to consider exigent circumstances and provide the chance for the consequences of a crime to include not just prison time but a real focus on rehabilitation. This is why it was such a good thing for young defendants when laws change, like the change made by the Nevada legislatures to transfer rules.
While previously even young kids could be tried as adults for murder, now a murder case results in a juvenile automatically being tried as an adult only if he is at least 16. When a child is between 13 and 15, a hearing is required and the state has to convince the court that the juvenile offender should be tried as an adult.
Prosecutors likely will file a motion to try a child as an adult not just in murder cases, but also when serious felony offenses have allegedly been committed. While prosecutors have the burden of proving the child should be tried as an adult, it is also important for those accused to have a lawyer to try to argue against the transfer of the case from juvenile to adult court.
An experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer can provide guidance to families when children are arrested. Call LV Criminal Defense as soon as possible so we can get started on fighting for your child’s future.