New Law Creates Tougher

Juvenile Penalties

January 18, 1996

Senate Bill No. 1 (SB1) will take effect on July 1, 1996. After that date, the criminal justice system will have a few new weapons for fighting violent juvenile crime.

Some of the most important aspects of SB1 are its provisions for mandatory bindovers; there will soon be situations when a juvenile court must bind a child over to be tried as an adult. After July 1, any juvenile who is 16 years old, and who commits the crime of murder or attempted murder, must be tried as an adult if he or she has ever had a previous commitment to the Department of Youth Services (DYS). The same rule applies to 16-year-old and 17-year-old juveniles who commit certain other serious offenses if they have previously been committed to DYS for similar crimes, or if they used or possessed a firearm during the current crime. Also, a juvenile who is an out-of-state resident must be tried as an adult if he or she would be treated as an adult in the home state.

SB1 also changes the standards for discretionary bindovers. Formerly, juveniles had to be at least 15 years old before they could be tried as adults. After July 1, a juvenile judge may order that a 14-year-old be tried as an adult if the situation warrants it.

Many adult penalties will soon apply to juveniles. After July 1, a juvenile may receive up to three years of mandatory imprisonment for using a firearm in committing a felony offense. Prior adjudications of juvenile delinquency may be used in the same way that prior criminal convictions can be used against an adult. The new law also requires the fingerprinting and photographing of juveniles over 14 years of age who commit certain serious crimes.

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