Social Question

john65pennington's avatar

How old is too old and how young is too young for a person to be arrested?

Asked by john65pennington (29182points) February 21st, 2010

Woman worked in a shoe factory for many years. for years, she was suspected of stealing expensive shoes from the factory and selling them for personal profit. factory security could not catch her in the act, so they notified the police. woman was followed and video taped for two weeks. her routine was to bring lunch for her fellow workers. her pots and pans were used for the hot lunches. no one ever questioned her leaving the factory with her pots and pans, after lunch. but, we did. in our surveillance of this lady, we observed her selling the stolen shoes at an American Legion on two saturday mornings. we purchased a pair of the shoes and held them as evidence. we secured a search warrant for her home. stolen shoes were located everywhere. under the beds, in the closets and even in her garage. we had the evidence for an arrest, but one problem plagued us, her age. she was 83 years old and weighed less than a hundred pounds. this is where my question comes into play: if a person commits a crime, should their age(young or elderly) have any bearing on an arrest? do you believe a person should not be arrested for a crime if they are too young or too old?

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15 Answers

cheebdragon's avatar

Is there really an ideal age?

KhiaKarma's avatar

I don’t think there is an actual limit…but It seems that there could be another intervention besides arrest, though. I think looking into her ability to support herself financially and exploring alternative resources could be most beneficial.

DarkScribe's avatar

Eighty-three years old and still working? She deserves a medal, not a criminal record.

I think that any company who prosecuted a women of that age would get some negative response – even though legally she deserves it.

mowens's avatar

A crime is a crime is a crime.

Mamradpivo's avatar

Their age shouldn’t have an impact on their arrest, per se, but it might weigh on what a court decides to do. No 8 year old should have a criminal record, and I’m uncomfortable throwing an octogenarian in prison too.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

I didn’t think there was an age limit on being accountable for your actions.

jerv's avatar

Legally, it depends on the crime. For most things, the lower limit is 18, though you could go as low as 15 for some things. On the upper end, it really depends on their mental competence, and I’ve seen some centenarians that are still as sharp as a tack so you rally can’t put an upper age limit.

However, age can be used as a mitigating circumstance when it comes to sentencing, at the judge’s discretion. While 180 days in jail may be fine for a younger person, that may well be a life sentence for an elderly person, not to mention the special things that would have to be done to accommodate them in jail/prison.

Given that it’s you asking though, I would put it like this; you are not in a position to make the law, and only have limited room to interpret it, but you do have a bit of latitude in how you enforce it. If you have good reason to believe that she wasn’t going to flee the jurisdiction, I think that a summons may suffice. Of course, if she failed to appear then you really wouldn’t have any choice but to take her in.

holden's avatar

I don’t think there’s such a thing as “too old.” I’m all for prosecuting 93-year-old ex-Nazis and war criminals.

DrBill's avatar

Too old, never

To young, Never

If you do the crime, you do the time.

YARNLADY's avatar

I do not believe children under the age of 12 are mentally capable of fully understanding the nature of ‘crime’. Yes, they can understand ‘I don’t want you to do that’ but they cannot understand ‘I should not do that’. The difference is subtle, but necessary to understand young children.

Older people can be affected with various mental disabilities that could affect their ability to understand ‘crime’, but it would have to be decided on an individual basis.

Divalicious's avatar

As @DrBill said, If you do the crime, you do the time. You shouldn’t make concessions for age, otherwise you’d have to make concessions for every other reason under the sun. We’ve had morbidly obese people in custody (650 lbs plus), and it was a tremendous amount of work. But if it were MY identity and life savings that were stolen, I’d want them behind bars. We’ve also had numerous paraplegics and quadriplegics. It’s amazing what the criminal can manage to do despite enormous physical challenges.

Criminal actions shouldn’t be excused.

Sophief's avatar

Whatever age, you should be arrested if you committed a crime. People use the excuse he is too young or too old, that is all it is, an excuse.

semblance's avatar

Sorry, but there is an aura of unreality to this question. First, I doubt very much that trained security personnel could not catch a suspect in the act if she was in fact stealling on a repetitive basis and security was focusing on her. Second, and more important, searh warrants are issued to the police, not to private parties. You imply that the warrant was issued to a private party. Third, if the warrant was issued to the police, then the decision to arrest or not would be out of your hands and there would be no point in asking this question.

Having said that, and giving you the benefit of considerable doubt, my opinion, as an attorney with extensive knowledge of the subject of theft from stores, is that the woman’s age is of course no barrier to arrest and prosecution. Indeed, on the facts stated, every incident of theft from the factory (at least after the first incident) would be a felony. This is so because the facts described show a specific intent to steal formed before entering the building. That makes the crime burglary, a felony, even if the amount stolen was worth only a few dollars. Felonies are serious crimes, and carry lengthy prison terms as sentence. Although typically first offenders do not serve much if any jail time, with multiple counts the lady could get a prison term for more than the rest of her life expectancy.

Do not take this as creating an attorney-client relationship. I am only expressing my opinion based on some rather dubious hypothetical facts.

lonelydragon's avatar

I don’t believe there should be an upper age limit. If we stop prosecuting people after a certain age, we’ll have a crime wave among senior citizens. Just joking. In all seriousness, though, your question highlights an inaccurate stereotype surrounding the elderly. A lot of times, we misjudge them as being frail and senile, when they’re really capable of more than we give them credit for…Including the commission of crimes.

Since the shoe thief obviously had a purpose and a plan to steal the merchandise, she is more than likely competent enough to stand trial. She should be punished. However, the punishment doesn’t have to be traditional imprisonment. Perhaps there is an alternative.

YARNLADY's avatar

It looks to me like some judges do give lenience to elderly.

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