When should kids be charged as adults?

In my opinion, if the kid is old enough to know right from wrong, and the crime was particularly heinous (i.e. rape of a younger child, animal abuse) they should be tried as adults.

I’m only asking because I stumbled upon an animal abuse case from back in 2009 in which a 13 or 14 year old boy named Kenny Glenn filmed himself violently abusing his cat, Dusty. From what I’ve gathered his parents are wealthy and have lots of influence in their town, so although the cat has thankfully been removed from the home, the kid has gotten off with little more than a slap on the wrist, if even that. As an animal lover and cat owner, I personally would like to see the kid thrown into a lion’s cage at the zoo.

Do you believe that if a kid is old enough to know right from wrong and does something incredibly heinous and sick, he/she should be tried as an adult? Why or why not? What do you think the cutoff age should be?

Kids should be charged as adults when they no longer order from the children’s menu.

As for this sick little fucker… he should be getting some serious therapy.

I think kids should be charged as adults once they become adults. Kids don’t have the judgment or ability to comprehend the long-term consequences of their decisions. Their brains and sense of morality are still developing.

I’m not saying there should be no consequences. There should always be consequences. But the emphasis should be on treatment and safety, not punishment.

In my opinion, never. They are minors, charge them as minors. The day they turn 18 (or 21, or whatever the law is in that jurisdiction) then this changes. It’s an artificial line, just like the age requirement for voting.

Yeah, there are some 12 year old kids who are sufficiently advanced to function as adults. Tough. They don’t get to vote, and they should be charged as minors.

Hell, there are no few forty year old people who are not sufficiently advanced to function as adults (and I’m not talking about mentally retarded adults, but just grown up people who are total dolts. We all know examples of this.)

Otherwise, you end up having to hold separate competence hearings, adding a whole new subjective dimension to the legal system. It contradicts the idea of equal justice: one 16 year old kid will be tried as an adult, and another, exactly like him in all ways, might not.

I pretty much agree with this 100%.

The reason we have different laws and consequences is because kids can’t reason the way adults do. Science backs this up. So kids shouldn’t be tried as adults, and that doesn’t change because the crime is super awful bad.

In cases where they allow for this (trying some kids as adults) it’s been shown poor and minority kids end up getting tried as adults more often than rich white kids, much like the OP’s example. So that’s another reason to oppose it.

So what is the difference between the brains of someone who is 17 1/2 years old and someone who is 18, that the 17 1/2 year old should be charged as a child?

Yes, it absolutely does. A 14-year old knows it’s wrong to murder someone. A 5-year old doesn’t.

If the people making the decisions could be trusted to use discretion appropriately, I’d say only if the kid is clearly a dangerous sociopath, in which case we need to remove them from society as quickly as possible. Since the people making the decisions can’t be trusted to make fair judgments…well, shit’s gonna be fucked up no matter what, so there’s no real answer.

6 months of development time. It’s still an arbitrary line, but if that’s the threshold to legal adulthood for everything else it should remain consistent.

I think the crimes that they commit should be taken into account as well as the age. For instance, there is a 16 year old Young Offender who had pled guilty to sexual assault of an eight-year-old - he was currently out on bail for similar charges against children. The people in his neighbourhood did not know that he was a sex offender, because as a youth, they are not allowed to release his name.

Who’s rights are more important - the rights of children in his neighbourhood to not be sexually assaulted by him, or his right to anonymity in spite of being a repeat sexual offender?

Not a whole hell of a lot, I’d imagine. But if we’re going to have a line somewhere (and I think we should) then, well… it has to be somewhere. Sometimes it will be arbitrary, but I prefer it over the alternative.

Brain scans of adolescents have shown they haven’t fully developed the parts of the brain that are responsible for understanding consequences. So, yeah, a 14 year old may know it’s wrong (which, so does a 5 year old, honestly), but doesn’t understand the full ramifications of what they do, and is far more susceptible to acting without thinking.

A fourteen year old isn’t an adult and shouldn’t be treated as one. This is why they cannot drive or vote or make their own medical decisions-- they aren’t capable of making good decisions. When that is proven because the kid committed a crime, that’s all the more reason to step in and help, not throw them over to adult felons.

In America we value the rights of the accused over the victims in many cases. This can be crazy frustrating, but it’s pretty uniformly applied.

Are 5-year-olds ever even charged with anything? If a 14-year-old and a 5-year-old both shoot someone on purpose, I would think the difference would be charging the 14-year-old with murder as a juvenile and not charging the 5-year-old with anything at all (or maybe charging the adult that allowed access to the gun). There was a case a couple of years ago where a 5-year-old girl drowned an 18-month-old because he wouldn’t stop crying, and the medical examiner ruled the death an accident. I didn’t think children that young were held accountable, period.

Yeah, I seriously doubt there are any 5-yr old thugs running the halls at any juvenile detention centers.

13 yrs old is still a kid…no kid is thinking how will my actions affect me later in life they just do things…how how are you sure this kid knew right from wrong? Now I haven’t seen this vid so idk how bad of an attack it was but still stand by the fact that he was young and shouldn’t be tried as an adult…


He’s not 5, he’s 9, but kids that are pretty young are tried as adults. I’m on my phone so its tricky to get cites, but it does happen.

I think in the case of repeat serious offenses a child as young as 16 could be charged as an adult. I know myself and many of my friends made some very stupid decisions as kids but we didn’t normaly repeat them once we realized how serious they were. Now if we continued with the behaviour I believe it should be handled differently.

I support a younger age of majority than 18/21 in general. I think people should be treated as adults at 16, possibly 15, in all ways.

But as it stands now, the age of majority should be consistent across all areas of law. So if you are an adult at 18 (or 21??) then that’s how old you need to be to be tried as an adult.

Why do you feel that way? I mean, I know teenagers used to be treated as adults at much younger ages, and that in some ways coddling them is a bad thing, but to treat 15 or 16 year olds as full adults? Why?

I think that would just leave the privileged ones with several more years of nurturing past the supposed age of majority, and the unfortunate ones out on their own, with an even greater disadvantage than they currently have.

It’s exactly the same difference that says the 17 1/2 year old isn’t responsible enough to vote or sign contracts, and the 18 year old is.

A “bright line” rule in law is always going to seem fairly arbitrary. It’s not like on someone’s 21st birthday they magically become capable of handling alcohol responsibly (far from it, usually), or on their 18th they suddenly can make a fully-informed decision on whether to join the military. But we have to draw a line somewhere, and that’s where we’ve chosen to draw it.

Now, to the meat of the question: Is it moral to claim that a person is deserving of the full punishment of having transgressed the laws of society while at the same time denying them the rights that go along with being a full member of that society? I would argue that it’s not. If a 17-year-old should be treated as an adult in one area, then he should be treated as an adult in all areas.

That’s not to say that teenage criminals should be given a slap on the wrist. But until we’re going to give them the right to vote, we shouldn’t punish them as adults.