Legal Competency Cases Involving Minors Prompts Review Of Current Laws

Criminal defense attorneys in the US are frequently defending their minor clients while resorting to questionable tactics. Every state in the US has its law individual laws and procedures for dealing with cases involving minors. In some states, anyone under the age of 16 is not permitted to be tried as an adult. In other jurisdictions, even children 12 and under can be tried and prosecuted as adults. More frequently, their defense attorneys are raising questions as to whether or not adolescents can fully understand how legal procedures work.

A recent case in California has caused lawmakers to review if current juvenile criminal laws are effective. After a minor girl accused three of her classmates of rape, two are awaiting charges while one may not ever see the inside of a jail cell. The unnamed minor’s defense attorney hired a psychologist to review his client for competency. The judge presiding over the case came to the conclusion that the defendant was unable to effectively participate during the course of his legal proceedings. There is evidence to show that he committed the crime, but he cannot legally be prosecuted under current California law if he does not understand what is going on in the courtroom. As a result, his two co-defendants may follow suit and in effect get away with a violent crime. Children may not always know the ramifications of their actions, but legal professionals believe that they should be held liable for their actions in order to avoid future crimes.

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