For a parent, there is nothing easy about seeing one’s child be charged with a crime. However, there may be some comfort in knowing that depending on the child’s age, the youth may be charged in the juvenile court system rather than the adult criminal system. Consider the following about what you need to know regarding when a youth under the age of 18 years of age–the legal “age of majority”–can be charged as an adult for a crime committed in Boston–
Factors Considered in Determining How a Child Will Be Tried
There is no doubt that in the minds of adults who are well past the age of 18, a person 17 or younger is certainly a child. But should such a child be tried as an adult when facing criminal charges? The state of Massachusetts has struggled in answering this question. When deciding whether or not a youth should be tried as a juvenile or adult, the court looks at a number of factors including:
- In Massachusetts, youth who are 14 years of age or older and who are charged with murder are automatically tried as adults. However, life sentences without parole for juveniles have been found to be unconstitutional.
- Prior to 2013, juveniles ages 17 and above were tried as adults when facing criminal charges. The “Raise the Age” bill changed that, stipulating that children 17 years of age and younger facing criminal charges will head to juvenile court, not adult court.
- “Youthful offender” status. In the event that a child commits a crime between the ages of 14-18 and the offense is such that it would be punished by incarceration in the state prison if the child were an adult and the child has previously been committed to the department of youth services or the crime involves bodily harm to another, the youth may be classified and tried as a “youthful offender.” There are two major differences between trying a child as a youthful offender vs. as a juvenile:
- The case will be open to the public (juvenile cases are confidential); and
- In a youthful offender case, the youth may be sentenced to the maximum penalty allowed under law for an adult – in juvenile court, the maximum penalty is commitment to the Department of Youth Services until age 18.
Get Legal Help If Your Child Is Facing Criminal Charges
If your child is facing criminal charges in the state of Massachusetts, you need to hire a skilled and experienced Boston criminal defense attorney immediately. If your child is at risk of being tried as an adult or a youthful offender, this is even more pressing.
At The Law Offices of Paul R. Moraski, our Boston criminal defense attorney is passionate about providing quality legal defense to all those facing criminal charges, and especially children whose futures are on the line. For a free, confidential consultation call our law office today at (978) 397-0011, or send us a message online now.