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How juvenile defense for those age 17 differs from other minors

An interesting study was recently conducted in Texas pertaining to teenage crime. A focal point of the study was whether the age of responsibility should be raised in this state. Currently, state law mandates those age 17 charged with crimes are to be tried as adults. Juvenile defense, then, is really no longer “juvenile” in such situations, not to mention that penalties under conviction could result in severe consequences.

The study analyzed crime patterns of those age 16, those age 17 and those age 18 and over. It became clear that the 17-year-old group committed crimes more similar to (and as often as) 16-year-olds than to those committed by adults.  With regard to the prison system, there appear to many problems associated with locking 17-year-old minors up with adults in prison. 

From sexual abuse to depression and suicide, it seems clear young people in that particular age group have trouble surviving adult jail. Texas is one of only seven states that functions with such a law. Those in opposition to the current law say a 17-year-old might still be high school, and he or she needs to be with family and friends on a regular basis.

These people also say it would be far better to try a 17-year-old the same way a 16-year-old is tried. In the end, a strong juvenile defense can help a young person avoid conviction and get back on track in life. Whether Texas will eventually change its law pertaining to crime and 17-year-olds remains to be seen. However, any parent in this state facing trouble related to a particular incident can seek support from an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Source:, “New Analysis of Texas Crime Data Suggests 17-Year-Olds Should Be Treated As Juveniles, Not Adults“, April 11, 2017

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