Juvenile crime is a concern in many communities. In Atlanta, the police chief has singled out crime committed by young people as a factor that is driving up overall offending rates.
Erika Shields, the Atlanta chief of police, said juvenile crime is driving all crime in the city, according to a Fox News report. She is looking at alternatives to the system in which young people drift in and out of the criminal juvenile system.
The news station highlighted a recent case at the airport in May. Two teen girls allegedly carjacked a female passenger in one of the parking lots. One of the suspects was just 13-years-old.
Officers expressed concerns that judges are too lenient in juvenile cases and young people are allowed back on the streets to commit more crimes.
The report noted the passenger was allegedly punched in the face by one of the girls when she rolled down her window. She was pulled out of the car and left on the ground bleeding.
Police tracked down the 13-year-old in the car a few hours later. Police were reported to be concerned that the case will not be classified in the same way as if she were older.
Under the juvenile system, the carjacking is classified as a robbery because no deadly weapon, just the girls’ hands were used to beat the woman in the alleged assault.
Although there has been some criticism of the juvenile criminal laws in Georgia, young people are treated as adults in Georgia at a lower age than most states. That means they often receive tougher sentences and end up in adult jails.
In 45 U.S, states, the maximum age of juvenile court jurisdiction is age 17. Five states — Georgia, Missouri, Michigan, Texas, and Wisconsin – draw the juvenile/adult line at the age of 16, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
States like Georgia that treat 17-year-old defendants as adults have come under pressure to ‘raise the age’ in juvenile cases.
Last year, Connecticut raised from the age at which a juvenile is automatically prosecuted as an adult in the state from 16 to 17. The switch came at a time when the “adult time for adult crime” mentality is was re-examined in several states and challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Harsh sentences for juvenile offenders can sometimes backfire and commit them to a life of crime. If you have been charged with an offense, it’s important to retain an experienced Newnan criminal defense lawyer to fight your case. Call the Law Office of Michael West at (404) 913-1529.