Juvenile or Adult Criminal Defense?
By Daniel T. Geherin
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.
Daniel 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 25+ 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.
Hopefully, 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 defense in Ann Arbor, throughout Washtenaw County, and all over Southeastern Michigan.
Visit 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.