Juvenile Cases Matter

 

In the past twenty (20) years the way juveniles are treated in Minnesota District Court has been harsh and at times right down appalling. Juvenile cases can be public; these adjudications can count for adult criminal history purposes in the future. The use of certification in trying juveniles as adults in criminal court is automatic for certain serious offenses and certification of juveniles for less serious offenses is potentially on the table when the state alleges that a juvenile cannot be treated in the Juvenile Justice System.

 

Recently, juvenile adjudication and arrests can and are published on the internet and cannot be expunged. It is very common for a charge and arrest to be sent to the Criminal Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. These records, which were once kept private, are now kept at local law enforcement agencies and courthouses throughout the state. Often, this data is sold to private data harvesters who sell this information to private companies for purposes of criminal background checks for housing and employment. This information, which is incomplete, ends up in background checks that disqualify young people from housing and employment opportunities time and again.

 

More appalling is that juveniles that are charged with gross misdemeanor and felony offenses must submit to finger printing and those finger prints are kept at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension database.

 

The United State Supreme Court has recently addressed what we all call the "adultification of youth" in the criminal justice system. In a series of decisions Roper vs. Simmons, Graham vs. Florida, Sullivan vs. Florida, JDB vs. North Carolina and Miller vs. Alabama the Supreme Court recognized that biologically and developmentally juveniles are categorically different than adults and often times less culpable than adults that commit similar offenses. The United States Supreme Court has also said that age is relevant to procedure and sentencing of adolescents.

 

A recent finding about brain development in children categorically shows that maturity and intellectual development are markedly different than adults who do understand the consequences of their actions.

 

Advocacy in the Juvenile Justice System is vitally important. Children are our most valued and prized cultural assets. We cannot continue to use the "lock them up and throw away the key" mentality of decades past.

 

Should your child be charged with a crime, contact a lawyer that understands your son or daughter's development and can affectively advocate options that will not stay with them as a lifetime label. Call the attorneys at Maschka, Riedy & Ries.