When older teens commit certain crimes, their criminal cases may be eligible to be tried in adult court. The fairness of such decisions is, of course, a source of much debate, because young people are not always aware of the consequences of their actions. This is even true for older teens who are involved in violent crimes and other serious offenses. Now a Maryland teenager who was temporarily labeled “Public Enemy No. 1” within the city of Baltimore will face charges for attempted murder in adult court, despite disputes about the facts in his legal case.
Authorities report that the young man had gotten into a dispute about a missing cell phone earlier in the year. He is accused of firing into a crowd of people while attending a party. The boy’s attorney argues that the teen should not be facing attempted murder charges, as it is not clear whether he was even the person who fired the gun. Even though the young man does have a significant criminal history, that information should not have any bearing on the boy’s current criminal status, and he certainly should not be labeled as a “public enemy,” according to lawyers.
A judge in the case agreed that prosecutors often file excessive charges in shooting cases, though it is not clear why that was the case in this specific instance. Still, the judge argued that the alleged crime was so severe that it should proceed in regular court rather than the juvenile system. Representatives from the prosecutor’s office say they believe the charges are fair, considering the nature of the alleged crime.
Juvenile offenders accused of violent crimes may need simple rehabilitation instead of more jail time. It is clear that this young man is quite troubled, perhaps because of a family or social situation. Instead of forcing the case to be tried in adult court, officials in such matters can advocate for teens’ rights, helping them reform their behavior instead of simply seeking the most severe punishment.
www.baltimoresun.com, ““Public Enemy” loses bid to send case to juvenile court” Ian Duncan, Nov. 27, 2013