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Young Offenders: Why They Should Be Charged as Juveniles Instead of Adults

Friday Nov 25th, on Criminal Defense Articles |

When a young person is accused of committing a crime, he or she should be treated differently within the criminal justice system. There have been many efforts in New York to change how the justice system works and to provide more protections for teen offenders in order to ensure an immature young person is not tried as an adult.  Unfortunately, many younger offenders in New York still face overly harsh consequences for youthful mistakes. Albany criminal defense attorneys can provide help in situations where a younger person is arrested, with the goal of avoiding charges or reducing penalties in order to protect a young person's future.

Since young people are often able to be rehabilitated after an alleged crime, and since young people typically do not have the maturity levels to fully understand their actions, sending younger offenders to prison for a long time is often an inappropriate and unfair outcome. Juvenile court can look at the big picture and impose more appropriate consequences for young people convicted of offenses, so juvenile court is the better place for cases to get resolved. In fact, New Republic has recently argued that it would be most appropriate for people to be charged as juveniles all the way up until they are 25 years old.

Should Young Adults be Considered Juvenile Offenders?

New Republic points to research conducted using MRIs to observe brain activity of young people. In 2011, research was published based on the MRIs of 103 people between the ages of 5 and 32 whose brains had been scanned over a period of six years. The researchers aimed to use the scans of the brain to track the development of white brain matter.  White brain matter controls many types of cognitive functioning, including supporting impulse control.

The researchers found that the majority of people participating in the brain scan study, including people who were age 32, experienced more connectivity in white matter between the brain scans that occurred. For those between the ages of 20 and 30, connectivity increased by as much as four percent in between scans. 

This suggests that a substantial amount of brain maturation occurs in the mid-20s and even the early 30's. As this brain matter develops, people become more responsible.  Until this happens, individuals in their 20's are essentially in a period of post-adolescence or extended adolescence.  Since they are not really adults with fully developed brains, it may be unfair to impose adult penalties on people in their mid-20's accused of crimes.

While there are solid reasons to consider even young adults as juveniles when they become involved in the criminal justice system, it is unlikely that the law will be changed to use this approach any time soon. For those who are accused of crimes at any age, getting help from The Law Office of James E. Tyner, PLLC criminal defense attorneys is vitally important to try to achieve an acquittal or to fight to get the minimum possible sentence.  You should contact one of our attorneys for help as soon as you can if you are charged or if your children are faced with criminal charges for alleged wrongdoing.

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