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childhood crime

When Can Teens Be Tried as Adults?

When can teenagers be tried as adults? Teens are often responsible for serious crimes, and in many cases they can face the same punishments as adults. The decision to try a teen as an adult varies by state, but generally each state considers the following factors: 1. How Serious Is the Alleged Crime? Serious crimes committed by teens can mandate transferring their cases to adult criminal court. This transfer is called a juvenile waiver, and it typically won't occur unless a serious crime has been committed. For example, in Texas, a child who may have otherwise been tried in juvenile court may be tried as an adult for any felony offense so long as there is: Probable cause to believe the child committed the offense, and The juvenile court believes that the seriousness of the crime or the child's background requires adult criminal proceedings. Capital crime charges like first degree murder often make a teen eligible to be tried as an adult, but many states limit even these cases by the age of the child. 2. Minimum, Maximum Age Limits. For most states, minors may be tried as adults unless they are younger than a certain age. The majority of states will not allow a child who's 13 or younger to be tried as an adult. In California, for example, the minimum age in most cases for a transfer from juvenile to adult criminal court is 14. Teens 14 years or older are not automatically tried as adults in California unless they commit certain heinous crimes. Other states have a lower maximum age for children to be tried in juvenile court. New York has notably tried most 16- and 17-year-olds as adults for all crimes, even for minor offenses like shoplifting. The New York Daily News reports that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has plans to raise this age limit to allow more teens to be tried in juvenile court, but the issue is far from settled. 3. Judicial or Prosecutorial Discretion. Under many states' laws, a juvenile court judge must decide whether a case should be transferred to criminal court. In addition to a child's age and the crime's severity, a judge may consider the circumstances of the accused act and the child's home life. A prosecutor may also have the discretion to either pursue or decline to try a teen as an adult, much in the way they can drop charges against adults. Related Resources: Teens to be tried as adults for alleged 'heinous' Marysville kidnapping (Sacramento, California's KCRA-TV) 10 Illegal Activities Your Kids May Be Up To (FindLaw's Blotter) Man to Be Tried for Murder for Childhood Crime (FindLaw's Blotter) Browse Criminal Defense Lawyers by Location (FindLaw's Blotter)
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What Happens After a DUI in a Foreign Country?

Getting a DUI in a foreign country is bad news -- just ask "Star Trek" actor Chris Pine, who had to pay more than $400 in fines and court costs after a drunken-driving arrest in New Zealand, Reuters reports. Although it's unclear how Pine's out-of-country DUI will affect him back in the United States, generally speaking, a foreign DUI can still have an impact after you return to your home country. Here are four things that could potentially happen after getting a DUI in foreign country: Your immigration status may be affected. Although foreigners who are first-time DUI offenders in the United States probably won't get deported unless there are other factors that make it a crime of violence or aggravated felony, the conviction could hurt their immigration status. For foreigners who want to become naturalized U.S. citizens, a DUI could be a roadblock to meeting the "good character" requirement. Expungement may not be an option. Expungement is a legal process that allows a past arrest or conviction to be erased from an individual's criminal record. Depending on the law of the country where your DUI conviction occurred, you may not be able to expunge the crime from your record. If the record isn't expunged, it can come up in background checks. It may impact sentencing for other crimes. Although the DUI occurred in a foreign country, that conviction or arrest can be considered if you're being sentenced for another crime in the States. Repeat offenders tend to get harsher punishments than first-time offenders, so a DUI in another country can still follow you back home and count against you. You may be barred from going back to the foreign country. Visitors with a criminal record may be denied entry into a foreign country. Even high-profile celebrities aren't immune from this: You may recall Mike Tyson was barred from entering the United Kingdom because of a rape conviction. Under UK law, travelers who've been convicted of an offense that includes a prison term of at least four years can potentially be denied entry. Several other countries have similar types of entry laws. Perhaps it's the anonymity of being in a foreign country that causes some people to forget to follow drunken-driving laws. If you're concerned about how a DUI in a foreign country will affect you back home, consult an experienced DUI attorney for more help. Related Resources: Chris Pine Drunken Driving: 'Star Trek' Actor Pleads Guilty To DUI Charges In New Zealand (The Associated Press) Victim of Crime Abroad? Here's What to Do (FindLaw's Blotter) Can You Expunge Out-of-State Convictions? (FindLaw's Blotter) What to Do If You're Arrested in a Foreign Country (FindLaw's Blotter)
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SXSW Crash Kills 2; Alleged Drunken Driver Arrested

An alleged drunken driving crash at SXSW claimed two lives and injured about two dozen people after a car barreled into a crowd Thursday morning. Austin, Texas, Police Chief Art Acevedo told CNN that an unnamed male suspect is in custody facing two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault by vehicle for plowing into the crowd at the South by Southwest festival. What will prosecutors have to prove in order to convict, and what legal options may be available for victims of the crash? Driver Faces Serious Criminal Charges The driver responsible for killing two and putting at least 23 in the hospital was allegedly intoxicated and fleeing police when he collided with the SXSW crowd. According to CNN, the two persons who were killed in the crash were riding their light motorcycles (read: scooters) when the allegedly drunken driver hit them. Under Texas law, causing the death of a person while committing a felony is first degree murder. Since the unnamed driver is also alleged to have caused the death of the two SXSW attendees, he could potentially face the death penalty. In addition to the threat of capital punishment, the man accused of injuring at least 23 people is facing 23 corresponding aggravated assault charges. Aggravated assault is applied when there are serious bodily injuries, and CNN reports that some of the injured are in critical condition. Even without the two capital murder charges, the allegedly drunken driver could be facing anywhere from 46 to 460 years in prison. Civil Lawsuits Possible The criminal charges facing the driver aren't the only way his victims will find justice -- he can also face lawsuits in civil court. The families and loved ones of the two persons killed in the SXSW crash can certainly file wrongful death charges against the man alleged to have run over the two. The 23 survivors (and any others injured by the crash) can potentially sue the drunken driver for battery, and can hope to collect damages for any medical bills or associated costs stemming from their injuries. These civil suits will likely be put on hold until the suspect's criminal charges have been resolved. If he is convicted for the assaults and murders, then the victims should easily obtain a civil judgment against him. Given the extent of the injuries and damages, however, it is unclear whether the suspected killer will have the money to pay for these judgments. Related Resources: 2 dead after car crashes into SXSW crowd (The Austin American-Statesman) In Car v. Bike Crashes, Why Are Charges So Rare? (FindLaw's Blotter) Mars Heiress Charged in Fatal Crash (FindLaw's Blotter) Dad Gets 90 Years for DUI Crash; 5 Kids Killed (FindLaw's Blotter)
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Toddler Heroin Case Lands N.J. Dad in Jail

Police arrested the father of a toddler after daycare providers discovered 48 packets of heroin in his 2-year-old son's jacket. Phillip Young, 27, of New Jersey, has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child. What's in store for him as his case proceeds? Endangering Welfare of a Child In New Jersey, a parent can face child endangerment charges for causing harm to a child in a manner that, in turn, causes the child to be abused or neglected. There are several degrees to the charge. It can encompass behavior spanning from leaving children in cold cars to more willful and extreme actions such as emotionally and physically torturing children. To be convicted, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the parent knew such conduct would make the child abused or neglected. In this case, the father likely knew he was harming his child if he did in fact place heroin in his son's pocket. Considering the child is only 2 years old, there was a very real danger of him ingesting the narcotic. Fortunately, there was no indication the toddler was aware the drugs were in his pocket, New York Daily News reports. Although the child was unscathed, it's pretty safe to say that the father's alleged actions would fit within the state's broad definition of child endangerment. Such charges may also trigger a child welfare investigation. Thus far, it's unclear whether that's happening in this case. Bail Set at $85K Young is being held on $85,000 bail, the Daily News reports. Bail is a process through which an arrested criminal suspect pays a set amount of money to obtain release from police custody, usually after booking. To post bail, Young or someone on his behalf, called a surety, must make the payment to the court. The court will then issue a document or a court order explaining the conditions of his release. If Young fails to show up to court after posting bail, he could face a fine, imprisonment, or both. It would be tacked on consecutively to any other criminal sentence. Related Resources: Toddler: Heroin stuffed in boy's jacket (Reuters) Another Tanning Mom Charged With Child Endangerment (FindLaw's Blotter) Dad Left Baby in Car to Go Gambling (FindLaw's Blotter) 'Hot Sauce Mom' Convicted of Child Abuse in AK (FindLaw's Blotter)
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Fleeing From Justice: What Can Happen?

Fleeing from justice is an overall bad idea. Not only will you be considered a fugitive, but there are no legal benefits for trying to escape criminal prosecution. Of course, that hasn't stopped criminals from trying to hide from law enforcement. But even some of the most notorious fugitives like mob boss Whitey Bulger eventually get caught. Same with lesser-known folks who try to get away with things like being a deadbeat parent. So while each situation is different, here are a few examples of what can happen to criminals who try to flee from justice: The statute of limitations for the crime won't apply. For federal crimes, the statute of limitations for the crime committed doesn't run out just because the criminal is on the run. For example, if the statute of limitations for a crime is five years, but the criminal intentionally hides out in another country for 10 years to avoid prosecution, he can still be prosecuted for the crime if he's caught even though the five-year limitations period has passed. A warrant will be issued for your arrest. If a criminal has an upcoming court date but doesn't show up, a bench warrant will be issued for his arrest because he's in contempt of court. For fugitives who flee from one state to another to avoid arrest, a fugitive from justice warrant will be issued in one jurisdiction for someone who's a fugitive in another jurisdiction. Your mugshot may make you (in)famous. Criminals attempting to escape the law are not only facing legal problems, but could also face reputational issues. Law enforcement frequently shares mugshots of wanted criminals on its social media pages and with the media, so everyone will know you're fleeing from justice. Bounty hunters can potentially track you down. Bounty hunters are authorized by the law to track down criminal defendants who skip out on their bail and fail to appear for their court dates. Bounty hunters have a monetary incentive to track down criminals on the run, so even if law enforcement officers don't catch you, a bounty hunter might. You may face extradition. Criminals who flee to another state or country can face extradition back to the jurisdiction where the crime occurred. For criminals who've fled to other states, the state seeking extradition must file the proper documents, show that you've been charged with a crime in that state, and show that you're a fugitive. This means that you intentionally went to another jurisdiction to avoid getting caught. If you need more help understanding how the law applies to criminals fleeing from justice, consult a criminal defense attorney in your area. Related Resources: Fugitive sought since 1977 found in California (MSN News) Fleeing Police by Car is a Violent Felony (FindLaw's Blotter) Joran Van Der Sloot's U.S. Extradition Set for 2038 (FindLaw's Blotter) 5 Countries With No U.S. Extradition Treaty (FindLaw's Blotter)
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Man to Be Tried for Murder for Childhood Crime

A Texas man who is accused of setting an 8-year-old boy on fire in his teens is going to be tried for murder -- more than 15 years later. A state court judge ruled Thursday that Don Willburns Collins, 28, is eligible to be tried as an adult for a crime he allegedly committed as a 13-year-old. Although the victim, Robert Middleton, didn't die immediately from his burns, he died from skin cancer in 2011 which was "blamed on his burns," reports The Associated Press. Collins' murder prosecution may force him to come to grips with a gruesome childhood crime. Past Crime, Present-Day Charge Complicated murder cases often take years after a victim's death to coalesce, so Collins' case isn't entirely unheard of. For murderers like Whitey Bulger, it took decades for prosecutors to try and convict him for his killings -- many of which occurred in the 1970s. There is no statute of limitations for murder charges in Texas (or any other state for that matter), so Texas prosecutors are free to bring charges against Collins for murder -- no matter when the alleged act occurred. The only problem is that Collins was a child when he allegedly doused Middleton in gasoline and set him ablaze; when Middleton died in 2011, Collins was already in his 20s. Trying Juveniles as Adults In Collins' case, a judge not only found that there was probable cause for prosecutors to try him for murder, but she found that he could be tried as an adult, the AP reports. In general, defendants who commit crimes as juveniles can still be tried as adults if the crime is serious enough and state law allows it. Texas law allows adults who allegedly committed capital crimes (like murder) as children age 10 and above to be tried as adults as long as: The case hadn't been tried in juvenile court, The state received new evidence of the crime after the defendant's 18th birthday, and There is probable cause to believe the defendant committed the crime. Collins' attorney argued that this law didn't apply to Collins, as it was passed one year after he allegedly set Middleton on fire, reports the AP. But for now, it appears that Collins is headed to adult court for his crimes as a child. Related Resources: Ruling in '98 assault is 'tremendous victory' for Robbie Middleton's family (Houston Chronicle) Can You Expunge Your Juvenile Record? (FindLaw's Blotter) Juvenile Incarceration Rate Lowest Since 1975 (FindLaw's Blotter) Juvenile Life Sentences Unconstitutional Without Parole (FindLaw's Decided)
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