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MonsterWithPen
05-09-2011, 05:53 PM
My MC is thirteen years old, has kidnapped another child her age and treated her quite badly during the kidnapping. So the other child called the police. What happens then? Can children get on trial, how do they get punished? Also consider that MC has a couple of disorders already, and frequently sees psychiatrists.

I'd be so grateful if any of you could answer, because I'm really stuck on that point :/

Thank you!

Love & Art

The Grift
05-09-2011, 06:04 PM
They absolutely get tried and punished, at least in the US. Depending on the severity of the crime, the state, and other mitigating circumstances the character can be tried as a juvenile, or an adult, and the potential penalties change based on that. 13 years old is old enough in many states to be tried as an adult, especially for a very serious crime like kidnapping.

Whether its juvenile court or "grown-up" court, punishment can be anything from a slap on the wrist to juvenile detention (jail for kids... short term solution, usually while awaiting trial or another final disposition) or secure detention to prison. The punishment for a juvenile in a juvenile court can and does vary widely; from reform schools or boot camps to group homes to other rehabilitation options.

As far as the psychiatric issues, they could end up in a psychiatric hospital or treatment center in lieu of or in addition to incarceration/rehabilitation/probation depending on the severity of their issues, the influence of those issues on the character's actions, the character's lawyer, and/or the judge.

The bottom line is that this is a very complicated issue that varies tremendously from state to state. What answer would serve your plot best? Psychiatric hospital? Prison? Reform school? Slap on the wrist?

PinkAmy
05-09-2011, 08:04 PM
My MC is thirteen years old, has kidnapped another child her age and treated her quite badly during the kidnapping. So the other child called the police. What happens then? Can children get on trial, how do they get punished? Also consider that MC has a couple of disorders already, and frequently sees psychiatrists.

I'd be so grateful if any of you could answer, because I'm really stuck on that point :/

Thank you!

Love & Art

She would have to be tried in adult court to go to trial, at 13, and because she's already seeing a psychiatrist with documented psychiatric disorders, changes are she would be sentenced in juvenile court. If she was a repeat offender and her diagnoses were along the lines of Conduct Disorder (often a precursor to anti-social personality disorder) she might be tried in adult court. If she was a truant, caused trouble in school and basically no one to vouch that she has redeeming qualities, chances are she'd go to adult court. If her lawyer is trying to use her psych issues as a mitigating circumstance, the state would be able to use their own experts to say she's a cold blooded kid who'll grow up to be a serial killer. If there was a lot of pre-hearing publicity, there could be public outcry for or against her being tried in adult court. If she was a kid who killed the father who molested her and there was documented proof of the molestation, everyone would want her tried as a juvenile. If she was a problem child who killed her infant brother, people will be screaming for her to be tried as an adult.

Juvenile court is closed to the media and her name could not be released to the press. In juvenile court the goal is rehabilitation, not punishment. In mosts states she could only be held until her 21st birthday, though for some it's as high as 25 years- so she would get substantially less time for a crime like murder than she would in adult court. Juvenile court has hearings, not trials, and there are other different rules.

Your case would probably be in juvenile court. Their sentences can be to a juvenile detention center, a psychiatric facility (that's state monitored and she'd need a few psychiatrists to testify before she could be released), probation, house arrest, in some cases a private psychiatric facility if the parents are rich and the lawyer is really good (the same rules would apply for being released, and since it was a pvt facility state psychiatrists would have to attest that her behavior has been corrected). She could also get community service (heavily supervised.) She might get sentenced to out-patient therapy + community service. Whatever she gets sentenced to would include some type of mandatory treatment.
A lot will depend on her parents, if they have provided a stable environment and if they will continue to do so. If she's in a psych hospital, she'd have to have a hearing before she could be released on probation. If she goes to a detention center, it is for a set amount of time or time range. Unfortunately a lot will depend on her ethnicity and if she's from the inner city or suburbs. It's not supposed to be like that, but it is. If she's white, has two parents and from the burbs, chances are her sentence will be much easier than if she's a minority, from the inner city with a single parent. :( (don't get me started....)

skylark
05-09-2011, 09:30 PM
My MC is thirteen years old, has kidnapped another child her age and treated her quite badly during the kidnapping. So the other child called the police. What happens then? Can children get on trial, how do they get punished? Also consider that MC has a couple of disorders already, and frequently sees psychiatrists.

I'd be so grateful if any of you could answer, because I'm really stuck on that point :/

Thank you!

Love & Art

In the UK, yes. The two boys in the James Bulger case were ten at the time. They were tried in an adult court and convicted of murder.

It's much more complicated than just an age, though - it's a question of whether the child knows what they are doing is wrong.

jclarkdawe
05-10-2011, 04:21 PM
In addition to PinkAmy's answer, here's some additional information.

Interstate kidnapping is a federal crime, and the feds do not have juvenile law. If you are deemed competent, you stand trial regardless of age. Feds have discretion as to whether they charge someone federally. They may or may not charge, depending upon what the US Attorney feels like.

Intrastate kidnapping is always a state crime. Each state has a different approach to juvenile law, from Arkansas which is very firmly rooted in rehab to Texas, which is hang them high and hang them often. Then within each state there is a wide variation.

I had a juvenile client in a rather nasty home invasion by five teens, ranging in age from 14 to 16. The oldest, who had a juvenile record, went to adult court and received a 5 - 10 year sentence. The second youngest one was sent to a group home for about six months, got himself organized and was returned home. The youngest was sent to the State's pyshciatric home, which he was in and out of for his minority.

The other two were sent to the Youth Detention Center (jail). One was there for a little over a year, before being sent to a group home, where he stayed for the rest of his minority. The other stayed at YDC for his minority.

All committed the same crime, but each was dealt with individually.

Most juvenile offenders have mental health issues and are in some level of treatment. Most adult offenders also have mental health issues and should be in treatment. Very few mental health issues impact juvenile or criminal law.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Prawn
05-10-2011, 04:39 PM
Nasty juvenile home invasion? Sounds like "A Clockwork Orange."

shaldna
05-10-2011, 05:06 PM
In the UK children can, and often do, appear in court. We have a thriving young offenders sector due to yob culture.

Buffysquirrel
05-10-2011, 05:11 PM
In the UK, yes. The two boys in the James Bulger case were ten at the time. They were tried in an adult court and convicted of murder.

It's much more complicated than just an age, though - it's a question of whether the child knows what they are doing is wrong.

That was the case when those boys were tried, but the law has since changed. Now the age of criminal responsibility is set in England and Wales at ten years old.

veinglory
05-10-2011, 06:20 PM
Children above the age of reason (often around 10) and below the age of majority (generally 16-18) are typically prosecuted in juvenile court.

Prawn
05-10-2011, 06:33 PM
In the UK, yes. The two boys in the James Bulger case were ten at the time. They were tried in an adult court and convicted of murder.

Damn, I just wikki'd it. It's horrifying what they did to a two year old. Those boys did deserve to be convicted.
P

Buffysquirrel
05-10-2011, 06:49 PM
Damn, I just wikki'd it. It's horrifying what they did to a two year old. Those boys did deserve to be convicted.
P

Yes, because reading the wiki is the same as hearing all the evidence....

Prawn
05-10-2011, 06:57 PM
Did you even read the wikki, Bufty?

They have closed caption video of the abduction, and there were 38 witnesses who saw them with the two year old victim, whose blood was on the killers' clothes. And do I need to mention how the victim was tortured?

PinkAmy
05-10-2011, 08:02 PM
That was the case when those boys were tried, but the law has since changed. Now the age of criminal responsibility is set in England and Wales at ten years old.
That makes me so sad. I'm quite familiar with the Bulger case. There are barely words to describe how horrible that was. The best thing for society would be that those boys be rehabilitated. Maybe they can't be, but they should at least be given the chance. I can only imagine what must have happened to the perpetrators to have them act in such a horrendous manner. Most 10-year-olds don't have have the brain development to sufficiently understand the long term consequences of such behavior. That doesn't mean they don't know the difference between right and wrong. They knew they were hurting their victim. I wouldn't have a problem sending them to a treatment facility until a determination could be made if they were rehabiltatible, but there should be some flexibility. Some 10-year-olds still play with Barbies. It seems like there should be some flexibility and at least an attempt at rehab.

BTW, I would never use wiki for academic research, but I'd use it to get a broad understanding of a case.

Buffysquirrel
05-10-2011, 10:33 PM
Did you even read the wikki, Bufty?

They have closed caption video of the abduction, and there were 38 witnesses who saw them with the two year old victim, whose blood was on the killers' clothes. And do I need to mention how the victim was tortured?

I don't need to read it; I followed the coverage at the time.

There's no doubt in my mind that Thompson and Venables killed James Bulger. There's a lot of doubt in my mind that justice was served.

I also find it infinitely sad that two young children were tried for murder in adult court because otherwise a mob would have hunted them down and killed them, and for no better reason.

shaldna
05-11-2011, 12:33 AM
The best thing for society would be that those boys be rehabilitated. Maybe they can't be, but they should at least be given the chance. I can only imagine what must have happened to the perpetrators to have them act in such a horrendous manner. Most 10-year-olds don't have have the brain development to sufficiently understand the long term consequences of such behavior. That doesn't mean they don't know the difference between right and wrong. They knew they were hurting their victim. I wouldn't have a problem sending them to a treatment facility until a determination could be made if they were rehabiltatible, but there should be some flexibility.

Point is, they were 'rehabilitated' and one of them is now back in prison on child pornography charges.

Evil is as evil does, Imho

veinglory
05-11-2011, 12:37 AM
Point is, they were 'rehabilitated' and one of them is now back in prison on child pornography charges.

Evil is as evil does, Imho

And one of them is not.

And the outcome of doing it differently is unknown.

We can't just discard juvenile offenders without and attempt at redeeming them.

shaldna
05-11-2011, 12:53 AM
We can't just discard juvenile offenders without and attempt at redeeming them.

I agree, and I wouldn't say otherwise. All I was saying is that not everyone *can* be rehabilitated.

I grew up in Belfast, I have family members, friends, collegues who have all been inside, all have been rehabilitated. Most of them have made a success of their lives outside of prison and YO.

BUT this is not true of all people who go to prison/YO, and it seems, based on the figures I get across my desk at work (given that I work in government) that there is a very high percentage of young offenders in particular who reoffend. This figure is much lower in adults who have served time.

veinglory
05-11-2011, 01:03 AM
Makes sense to me. Probably because people who begin offending early are suffering from more severe whatever-it-is-that-is-going-wrong-with-them than people who begin offending later.

I do wonder if/when much of what is going wrong is environmental, does putting them in a prison environment help very much....

shaldna
05-11-2011, 01:28 AM
I don't really know. And the problem is, a lot of what is 'illegal' is subjective. For instance, I have a cousin who spent 2 years in prison awaiting trial on terrorism charges.

What he actually did was threaten to kill a drug dealer if he didn't stop selling drugs to kids.

Not exactly terrorism, and I'm not condoning his actions (as well meant, but ill advised as they were) but they weren't as severe as the charges made out.

This is part of the reason it's so hard for ex-cons to find work, people just look at the rap sheet and not at the person,

MonsterWithPen
05-12-2011, 11:40 PM
Thank you all very much for such extensive answers, it's really nice of you to help :)

I took a look at the Bulger case. I had never heard of it before...it's horrifying.