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