Minnesotans may have heard that people whose crimes were committed when they were minors and who were subsequently tried as adults and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole are receiving resentencing hearings. Some of these juvenile lifers are being given sentences carrying the possibility of parole. The reasons for these resentencing hearings is a change in the understanding of the brain development of young people along with a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Teenagers tend to make mistakes. The teenage brain doesn't analyze the potential for risks and consequences as well as the adult brain. That can result in unnecessary risk-taking or just bad decisions.
It is just a myth that juvenile court and conviction records in Minnesota are either automatically sealed or expunged at the age of 18. The truth is actually much more complicated.
In Minnesota, most children who are charged with crimes go through juvenile court rather than adult criminal court. Before a juvenile court judge will accept a guilty plea from minor defendants, the judge will first advise them and make certain that they understands their rights and what could happen if the court accepts the plea.
When a child is charged with a crime, a different set of rules will apply to the legal proceedings. In our state, those rules are called the Minnesota Rules of Juvenile Procedure. In some respects, the law and punishments associated with conviction are a little bit more lenient on the younger population. However, they can also be stricter -- like when it comes to underage drinking and underage DUI, for example.
With the holidays in full force, many adults will enjoy (or endure) the company of their family and friends while sipping on their favorite seasonal alcoholic drinks. Kids watch their parents and how they enjoy the holidays. Drinking habits can increase a child or teen's temptation to try alcohol.
It is a reality of life: juveniles sometimes make mistakes. Some such mistakes, however, could potentially jeopardize a youth's future.
Anyone who has ever been arrested and charged with committing a crime, understands how scary and devastating the experience can be. An arrest and criminal conviction can negatively impact an individual’s life in numerous and unexpected ways. From a juvenile who is convicted of drug possession and loses a college scholarship to a respected business man who is convicted of DUI and suffers professionally, the ripple effects of a criminal arrest and conviction could permanently and negatively alter the course of an individual’s life.
The sheer number of recent violent U.S. juvenile crimes have become the center of much heartache, outrage and debate. As politicians argue over gun laws, schools take steps to protect against possible violent acts and Minnesota parents worry every time their children are out of sight; the serious mental and emotional problems suffered by many U.S. juveniles continue to go undiagnosed and untreated.
We recently discussed in a blog post concerns related to the notion that Minnesota jails and prisons are becoming holding pens for individuals in desperate need of serious psychiatric and medical care. Just this week, a news story provided details about a 17-year-old Minnesota teen's plans to shoot and kill his entire family and then continue his murderous rampage at a school.