General Question

jca's avatar

Should children be tried as adults, and if so, what's the youngest?

Asked by jca (28393 points ) July 25th, 2012

A teen commits a horrific murder. Should he or she be tried as an adult, or in juvenile court, with the laws and protections given to juvenile criminals?

If a child commits a horrific murder, should he/she be tried as an adult?

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19 Answers

Pandora's avatar

It really depends on the crime and how much did they understand at the time. But I will say, i think a child that murders another child on purpose around the age of 13 cannot claim to not understand that murder is wrong, and so be tried as a an adult, unless there are other circumstances that lead to the murder. Peer pressure from older kids that made him or her feel in fear for there own life, like in a gang situation. Or if they felt some harm may come to a family member. Can’t trust them to think clearly in a situation that most adults would have a hard time with themselves. If the murder was also caused in a rage that blinded them from the outcome, than that would also be temporary insanity and they also should not be tried as an adult. In the end. I’m glad the decision comes down to what a judge or a DA decides.

Nullo's avatar

I would say that someone in their mid- to late teens can reasonably be expected to know that horrific murder is a Bad Thing.

gailcalled's avatar

@jca; Is there such a thing as unhorrific murder?

athenasgriffin's avatar

I do not think children should be tried as adults, ever. While it is true that 13 year olds know that murder is wrong and bad, I don’t think they have an adult’s control over themselves. Just because you know something is wrong doesn’t mean you are capable of making the right decision in a traumatic moment. The decision making part of our brains are not fully developed even at the age of 18 for males, and is exceptionally underdeveloped at 13. Anyone who says someone between 12–18 makes decisions as well as the same person at 30, or says that this bad decision making in young people is not biologically driven must know a different breed of teenager.

filmfann's avatar

Teenagers are brain damaged. They don’t understand squat. Trying them as adults makes no sense.

rooeytoo's avatar

I think all of the above is true but I also think kids are smart and manipulative. They know they can get away with just about anything (legally speaking) with little more than a slap on the wrist and I think they take advantage of that. There must be some severe punishment involved because that is a deterrent. I would probably quit working and go rob banks except I would get caught and punished.

bookish1's avatar

As with many things in the U.S., it seems to frequently depend on race whether a minor will be tried as an adult or as a child. :-/

Nullo's avatar

@bookish1 Have you considered that particularly heinous juvenile crimes might have a higher frequency in one subculture than in another?

bookish1's avatar

@Nullo: Go ahead, spit it out.

rooeytoo's avatar

@bookish1 – is that really a fact? Are there numbers to substantiate that theory? Where I live all kids get off with a smack, minorities often moreso because of their less than desirable upbringing.

jca's avatar

@gailcalled: There are different degrees of murder, yes? Different degrees that help determine the severity of the crime – whether or not it was planned, done in self defense, etc. I know that’s something that you understand.

Nullo's avatar

@bookish1 I did. I hold with those who say that race is a thing. I don’t hold that race makes you act a certain way; that is more the domain of culture.
Anyway, that would make it possible for the justice system to operate fairly while still showing higher numbers for one cultural subset.
You seem to be suggesting that the criminal justice system favors “non-palestinians” over “palestinians,” and I’m saying that the real set may be “market bombers” and “non-market bombers.”

gailcalled's avatar

The various ways of offing someone are already codified under the law; first and second degree murder (varies by state and includes malicious intent ) and first and second degree manslaughter. Several states also have accidental homicide on the books.

The legal definitions are the tools to work with when a child or teen-ager kills someone. “Horrific” is interesting in a literary sense only.

jca's avatar

@gailcalled: OK, point taken. If I could go back in time and edit out the use of my dramatic word “horrific” I would.

Nullo's avatar

What of “murder most foul?”

gailcalled's avatar

Pay your lawyer $300 and he’ll be happy to define it.

Nullo's avatar

In the spirit of the D.I.Y. I have found my own definition here. It’s photo*graphic*, and very NSFW.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Nullo – holy shit! That makes what they do to the cattle look like a walk in the park. That’s an interesting god they worship who condones such acts in its name.

bkcunningham's avatar

OMG, extremely NSFW or anyone. @Nullo, I’m going to have nightmares.

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