Last Updated 31 Jan 2023

Should Teenagers Be Treated as Adults in the Court of Law?

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Juvenile justice, occurring more and more often now, is a huge subject of controversy throughout the globe. Although the difference between an adult and teen may seem like a fine line, evidence proves otherwise, showing that in most, if not all cases, teens should be tried as adults in the court of law.

In extreme instances, such as in the case of Michael Brewer, a set of teenage males were convicted of Aggravated Battery in the state of Florida, Matthew Bent, Jesus Mendez, and Denver Jarvis allegedly attempted to sell Brewer a piece of drug paraphernalia, and a bowl used to smoke marijuana, but Brewer refused. Bent then made his way to Brewer's property later that night in attempt to purloin his bike, which led to a burglary charge against Bent; prosecutors claim the attack was a retaliation against Brewer for the burglary charge. Bent, Mendez, and Jarvis were accused of Aggravated Battery as they set Brewer on fire the following day.

In this situation, the young teenage males were aware of their actions, therefore they were punished as adults. If the teenagers were not tried and sentenced as adults, it would give the impression that minors are permitted to commit such wrongdoings without any repercussions. The nation's judicial system is knotted in its policies; more often than not, gang affiliated groups acquire juveniles to execute the violent crimes. They assume juveniles will not be punished as adults, therefore it is acceptable to commit brutality against other individuals. It is vital to not only sentence minors as adults for repercussions, but for the purpose of setting the example for the public, in which violent crimes are not permitted under any circumstances as well.

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To further support the sentencing of teenagers as adults one must take an examination of the Columbine High School Massacre. When high school seniors Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered twelve of their classmates and one of their teachers, their thoughts were not on who they had killed, but who was their next target. The attack was not random nor was it unorganized.

According to FBI documents, in order to supply their weapons Harris and Klebold took into account the federal restrictions on firearm sales to minors. Knowing they could never purchase them legally, they asked a close friend, to purchase carbines under the moniker they would be used for "practice". Additionally, the machine gun pistol they purchased had come from a man they convinced the gun would be used for a sport.

The intelligence and self-awareness Harris and Klebold had is conveyed, as they were aware their age projected a form of innocence that could be exploited. Klebold and Harris educated themselves in the art of explosives; according to journals found, they aimed an attack on the level of the Oklahoma City Bombing. As a result both began experimenting in the designing of pipe bombs that would be used in their attacks. When testing their effectiveness, Klebold left home-videos of their use as a reminder of the legacy they had hoped to create.

On the day of the attack only a fraction of the bombs had successfully detonated, which would be used as a distraction for police and firefighters allowing them to carry out their attack for a longer duration. According to police and law enforcement, had all 99 explosives successfully detonated the death toll would have been in the hundreds. When constructing the explosives in their homes Harris and Klebold had told their parents they were making "toys" as gifts for their classmates at high school.

But what stands out about Columbine? It was the intelligence and organized effort of two students who had successfully fooled, manipulated, and convinced their family and friends they were innocent and pure, that makes this case not only a national issue but a national tragedy. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold proved that age is indeed just a number and teens should not be an exception to the repercussions that follow.

An auxiliary case as to why teens should be prosecuted as adults is Nicholas Browning. Browning, a former boy scout, shot and killed his parents, 14-year-old brother Gregory, and his 11-year-old brother Benjamin. On the night of the heinous crime, Nicholas waited for all of his family members to fall asleep before he retrieved his father's handgun and shot everyone who ever truly loved him. He proceeded by tossing the handgun into a shrub nearby and went to a friends house to play video games.

The next day, Browning's friends accompanied him to his home where he staged the discovery of his families death. Browning went inside and came back outside to inform his friends of his parents death. Browning called 911 and officers responded to a cardiac arrest call, but once they reached the crime scene, it was ruled a homicide. The officers found the gun in a shrub. Browning confessed the next day and was charged with four counts of first-degree murder.

During a news release, the police stated that Nicholas Browning and his father, John Browning were not getting along. Money was also a contributing motive as to why Nicholas killed his family. His father was real estate agent who had obtained a great sum of money. He planned on getting money after their death and going to prom. Nicholas Browning was fully aware of his actions while he planned to kill his family and should be no mystery that he was rightfully tried as an adult.

With each reiteration of violent crimes, youth are essentially taught to act destructively when agitated, which suggests that teens must be restrained and tried as adults because juveniles are fully aware of the severity of their actions. As shown in the Christopher Pittman case, juveniles are capable of discerning their own actions, Pittman was a 12 year old who murdered his grandparents, ignited their home, and fled. He was convicted of these crimes on the basis of premeditation. Defendants emphasized that medication affected his behavior, and a 12 year old is incapable of premeditating murder. Prosecutors successfully proved Pittman's guilt, asserting that the case was not about the medication, but rather Pittman's diabolical crime.

Investigation of Pittman's life prior to consuming the drug revealed that he was an extremely troubled child with an unfortunate past. He developed hatred towards his own life, which culminated into attempt to commit suicide and eventually the murders of his grandparents. Pittman was tried as an adult and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Ultimately, Pittman obviously had the capability to decide right from wrong, however, his plagued past caused him to act this way.

Juveniles must be litigated under the same circumstances of an adult because it is deleterious to humanity. In fact, just allowing youth to undergo less severe consequences promotes that youth can escape harsh punishments whenever, making them more willing to commit misdemeanors and felonies. Merely stating that children learn from their mistakes is not a viable argument in any crime; enforcing change within juveniles through stringent discipline ensures that juvenile crimes are ceased and younger generations are mindful of their actions.

It is uncommon to hear, nowadays, about young teenagers committing atrocious acts of violence to another human being for amusement. The debate whether to charge a minor as an adult, has been conversed about for centuries and has made various states adjust and enforce laws in an attempt to limit the amount of crimes performed by adolescents. From the three young men burning an innocent man alive, consciously, to the little boy shooting his family at night and lying to the police officer, it has been made clear that these "kids" are killers at a very early age and do not deserve the right to walk the streets as a free person. All the cases presented have a common factor; juveniles cognizant of what their actions are, therefore, people under the age of eighteen should be trialed as an adult.

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