If you’re a parent, you know one thing for certain: Teenagers don’t think like adults. For the most part, they tend to be impulsive and take a somewhat short view of the future. That’s partly because they’re simply inexperienced and partly because their neurological development — which is ultimately responsible for decision-making — isn’t complete.
Unfortunately, the criminal justice system doesn’t tend to be understanding about juvenile brain and emotional development — especially in Georgia. Georgia is one of only three states that still tries juveniles 17 years of age and older as adults when they’ve committed some kind of crime. (Texas and Wisconsin are the other two.)
Currently, House Bill 440 is pending in the state’s legislature. Known as the “Raise the Age” bill, it seeks to keep more young offenders out of the adult criminal system and adult prisons. Even so, it would not apply to any juvenile criminal case where the teen was accused of a serious crime like murder, armed robbery or sexual assault — and it has already met with opposition that has caused the legislation to stall.
If your teenager commits a crime, how likely are they to be tried as an adult? Georgia currently has 71 prisoners in its adult prison system who are under 18. However, local district attorneys have the option to send some cases to juvenile court if they determine that it’s appropriate.
If your 17-year-old (or younger teen) is charged with a crime, it’s smart to understand the system you’re dealing with — and the options you have. Find out how a criminal defense attorney can help.