Juvenile crime cases are some of the most sensitive to pass through the criminal justice system. Not only are there concerns about protecting the identities of accused minors, but also challenges surrounding whether or not young people are certified as adults. Even if a person is years away from turning 18, he or she could still be treated (and punished) as an adult.
According to reports from the Seattle Times, two Washington boys, ages 12 and 16, are currently facing charges for separate incidents of armed robbery. Since being charged, both boys have pled not guilty on all counts. Yet the court will determine whether or not the older boy will be tried as an adult due to the severity of the criminal charges in this case.
The 12 year old is accused of robbing a coffee stand and convenience store while using a gun, which was apparently borrowed from a friend, the 16-year-old boy who is also facing charges. Law enforcement officials indicate that the younger of the two said his friend is responsible for holding up a sandwich shop.
Police claim that they have evidence to connect the younger boy to the robbery incidents, but he still deserves a fair hearing in juvenile court. For both defendants, ensuring fairness is of the utmost importance. Being tried and convicted as an adult at such a young age can be very scary, as the juvenile justice system focuses more on rehabilitative than punitive measures.
Knowing how young the two defendants are -- and how many years they have ahead -- the hope is that the situation is resolved in the most positive way possible.
Source: The Seattle Times, "Robbery suspects, 12 and 16, plead not guilty," Christine Clarridge, Sept. 12, 2013