Parents are often
shocked and angry when they find out that their high-school-aged kids will be
tried as adults in the Michigan criminal justice system. Currently, kids who allegedly commit crimes
in Michigan on or after their 17th birthday are automatically
charged as ADULTS. So, high school
seniors who legally cannot vote, smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol face the
prospect of going to jail or prison (not to mention having a conviction on
their record before applying for college, jobs or military). Michigan is one of the few remaining states
where 17-year-olds are automatically tried, sentenced and incarcerated as
adults if they are charged with or convicted of a crime. In fact, 46 other states classify 17-year old
kids as juveniles for most offenses.
Luckily, a plan to
classify 17-year-olds as minors in Michigan’s criminal justice system was revived
in the state Senate this week. A
bipartisan 14-bill package from Sens. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Twp., and Sylvia
Santana, D-Detroit, would amend various areas of Michigan law to categorize
17-year-olds as minors. The legislation allows for exceptions when it comes to
violent crimes. The bills, Senate Bills 84 and 90-102, were referred to the
Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee. Last year, a similar set of bills
passed a House committee, but didn’t go further.
T. Geherin, owner of the Geherin Law Group PLLC in Ann Arbor, is a strong
proponent of this new law. Dan has been
a juvenile justice specialist for over 20 years. He started his career as a juvenile
prosecutor in Los Angeles, California, where he was assigned to a gang unit and
prosecuted juvenile offenders in cases ranging from homicide to assaults to
drug crimes. Since 2000, he has been a
private defense attorney, helping juveniles with criminal charges throughout
Southeastern Michigan. In that time, he
has seen far too many young people make dumb mistakes, only to find themselves
straddled with an adult criminal record and facing the scary prospect of going
to jail with people 2/3 times their age.
He believes it is beyond time to ease the adult criminal justice system
and send young offenders to juvenile court (and thus away from the prospect of
adult convictions, adult consequences, and adult incarceration) like so many
other states have done.
the State of Michigan will get it right and change the adult jurisdiction age
to 18. Then, high school kids who make a
mistake and commit a crime might have their case adjudicated in the Juvenile
System, where the primary goal is rehabilitation, and not punishment. Until then, for parents of younger defendants
who are scared and worried about the prospects of an adult conviction, please
consider calling Dan and seeing how he might be able to help. As a former prosecutor and board-certified
criminal trial attorney, he has dedicated his career to helping all
defendants—adult and juvenile—with criminal cases in Ann Arbor, throughout
Washtenaw County, and all over Southeastern Michigan.
GLGMichigan.com or call 24/7 (734) 263-2780, and they’ll be more than happy to
schedule a free consultation to see if they can help.