|While practicing as a criminal defense lawyer in Jacksonville, Florida, I often run across a case or cases that peak my legal interest more than others. We recently had a juvenile criminal case here in Duval County, Jacksonville, Florida, regarding an 11 year old boy who had allegedly killed his younger brother. The Government chose to prosecute the child as an adult. Now, I have just learned that two fifth graders in the state of Washington allegedly had a plan to assassinate a female classmate and took a semi-automatic gun with semi-automatic clips and a knife to school. The boys are 10 and 11 years of age. The State of Washington plans to prosecute these children as adults. Do children have the mental capacity to commit a crime? If so, is life in prison at the age of 11 justice?
Each one of us has been a child. Each one of us understands that when we were 11, we certainly didn’t think of ramifications much less the complicated and adult legal ramifications of our actions. Sure, most of us didn’t take semi-automatic guns to school but if we had, we wouldn’t be facing the rest of our young lives in prison. In today’s modern world, there must be a better way to punish and to rehabilitate these at risk children. Mental health counseling should be the first resource in the criminal juvenile court system as many of the crimes committed by juveniles are due to child abuse in the home, child neglect in the home, domestic violence between parents and many other factors. Many times, a mental health evaluation and treatment can shield these child offenders from a state prison incarceration for life and many of these children have excelled after completing mental health counseling and have gone on to be upstanding, law abiding citizens. Please, if you have a child who has been arrested or charged with a crime, please call the Jacksonville Juvenile Lawyer to help you and your child through this process.