Juvenile offenders: a singular demographic in criminal law

Under the following scenario, who is more likely to be looked at in disapproving fashion by a judge or jury: a well-seasoned adult with a long string of criminal convictions who is now facing charges relating to a stolen car or a hasn't-shaved-yet teen offender with no prior record who went joy riding with some friends and is facing a similar charge?

The answer seems obvious, doesn't it?

Although the criminal justice system doesn't always treat alleged juvenile wrongdoers differently from older defendants when it comes to sentencing outcomes, it certainly does so often enough for most of us to know that youthful offenders are generally perceived in a differentiated way.

And that of course owes precisely to what they are -- youthful.

Youth readily comes with a set of presumptions. Young and growing people are often filled with energy, optimism, hope and a general attitude that whatever they become involved with will work itself out in an OK manner.

Adults also know this about younger people as a category, too, though: they can be impetuous and rash. They can -- and often do -- act impulsively and in advance of configuring the risks and potential downsides associated with their behavior.

And, unsurprisingly, that can lead to dire outcomes when they interact with law enforcers regarding alleged wrongdoing.

A recent media focus upon teens' propensity for recklessness notes that their brains "are actually wired to engage in risky behaviors." A study of thousands of teenagers posits that young people are unquestionably works in progress, with brains that aren't fully developed until they are in their mid-20s.

Although that of course does not justify them getting a free ride whenever they get into trouble, it is certainly something that must be reasonably considered in many instances, especially when criminal sentencing outcomes are meted out.

Millions of juveniles commit youthful acts of indiscretion that are suitably responded to by adults with measured rather than draconian punishments.

Proven criminal defense attorneys know that well and often provide diligent legal representation that fully focuses upon mitigating criminal law downsides for juveniles to the fullest degree possible and also seeks to safeguard rather sabotage their futures.

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