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Detroit Legal Blog

Michigan Considers Raising the Age for Juvenile Crime

Aug 05, 2016, by Maurice Davis in Criminal Defense, Legal Blog, Student Crimes

If you or a loved one were charged with a crime as a 17-year-old, you understand how devastating it can be to see a teenager charged as an adult. The potential penalties for adult offenders versus adolescents are much harsher. Instead of adolescents receiving fair punishments and being able to move forward with their adult lives, many are treated like adults from the very beginning, sending them to prison and greatly diminishing their future potential. But this may change as Michigan is one of many states looking to treat everyone through the age of 17 as a juvenile offender.

If you are a teenager who has been charged with a crime, contact the experienced Michigan defense attorneys of Davis Law Group at (313) 818-3238. At this age and time, your attorney may have to fight for you to be treated as a juvenile offender or aggressively work for you to receive the minimum statutory consequences of an adult conviction.

Michigan Might Treat 17-Year-Olds as Youthful Offenders

Michigan has historically been known as a tough-on-crime state. Currently, 17-year-olds are automatically treated as adults in the criminal justice system. However, Michigan and many other states have realized that laws that focus on imprisonment and punishment for adolescents are less helpful and more costly than laws that focus on helping teen offenders move past their offenses and into productive lives through age-appropriate punishments.

“Children need different treatment than adults and for many of these kids when you put them in prison with adults, you introduce them to some of the only adults they have ever known and they grow up with that influence,” stated Michigan Sen. Anthony Forlini, Dist. 24. “Without a focus on education, counseling, and appropriate discipline we are essentially just creating more criminals instead of doing everything in our power to make sure they don’t come back,” reported.

The Michigan House approved a number of bills that would end automatically treating 17-year-olds as adults by 2018. These bills would also stop adolescents from being housed in adult prisons. Youth programs would receive more funding for programming and there would be a new focus on ensuring offenders have contact with their families. However, certain major crimes committed by 17-year-olds such as rape, arson, armed robbery, and attempted murder could still lead to adult charges.

Other States Also Reforming Their Criminal Justice Systems

This type of reform has spread across the country, according to Frontline. At one point in time, many states treated 17-year-olds as adults. Now a majority of states and Washington, D.C. treat individuals through the age of 17 as juveniles. They aren’t automatically charged as an adult unless they commit a crime after their 18th birthday.

South Carolina’s legislature recently voted to raise the age to charge someone as an adult to 18 as well, and Gov. Nikki Haley is expected to sign the bill. Louisiana legislature passed a similar bill, SB 324, and Gov. John Bel Edwards signed it on June 14, 2016. Louisiana’s new law ensures juvenile offenders are not automatically tried as adults, are put in an age-appropriate facility, and receive an education. Prosecutors are still allowed to charge them as adults for certain serious crimes.

Some states are lagging behind. Nine states only automatically treat adolescents through the age of 16 as juveniles. New York and North Carolina currently treat children through the age of 15 as juveniles. New York legislators have considered this type of reform, but it hasn’t gotten off the ground yet.

Call Michigan’s Davis Law Group for Advice

If you are facing criminal charges as a 17-year-old or your son or daughter is up against an adult offense, call or text the Davis Law Group at (313) 818-3238 right away. Michigan is working to reform how it treats young offenders and there are now ways to ensure a teenager receives an age-appropriate punishment instead of automatically going to court as an adult. We may be able to have your or your child’s case put on a juvenile consent calendar, where no plea is entered. If the defendant completes all of the terms of the penalty, his or her record is wiped clean.