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In recent years, Indiana has led the nation in pharmacy robberies. In response to these alarming numbers as well as a few well-publicized news stories about teenagers who were involved in serious pharmacy robberies, an Indiana senator introduced a bill allegedly aimed at combatting the problem. According to Senate Bill 170, certain teenagers who were involved in pharmacy robberies could automatically be tried as adults.
Currently, teenagers can only be tried as adults in specific circumstances. For instance, a 16 year old could be tried as an adult if he or she participated in a robbery and was armed with a weapon. The new bill, however, provides that no juvenile court has jurisdiction over any teenagers who rob a pharmacy or a retail store that contains a pharmacy if:
According to the terms of this amendment, a defendant would not even need to use an actual weapon or cause an injury to be adjudicated as an adult, but would only need to imply that he or she had a weapon.
Although Senator Young argues that these extreme measures are required to cut down on the number of pharmacy robberies involving teenagers, some critics remain skeptical of the effectiveness of Senate Bill 170. For instance, some argue that increasing the number of juveniles who are tried as adults will only lead to greater recidivism among young offenders, who are much more likely to commit additional crimes if prosecuted in adult court. In fact, one study indicated that youth who are transferred from the juvenile court system to adult court are between 34 percent and 77 percent more likely to reoffend. This is in large part attributed to the fact that juvenile brains are not fully developed and so are more amenable to rehabilitation. Additionally, the juvenile criminal justice system is uniquely equipped with the resources required to provide support to young offenders.
Others point to evidence that by adjudicating these types of cases in adult court, juvenile offenders are saddled with the burdens of a criminal record at a very young age. This can make it much harder to obtain housing, secure employment, or take advantage of educational opportunities, which in turn, can contribute to recidivism.
Teenagers are notorious for making reckless and impulsive decisions. While this can be irksome in day to day life, it can be devastating for those juveniles convicted of a crime in their youth. Having the advice of an experienced defense attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of a case, so if your child was recently charged with a crime, please contact the legal team at The Bellinger Law Office by calling 260-428-2214. To speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney after hours, please call us at 260-466-3272.
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