In Arizona, juveniles are generally treated with more leniency than adults; however, minors over the age of 14 charged with a serious violent crime such as murder may be tried in the adult system and risk lengthy and severe sentences.
Although the Supreme Court has ruled against the use of the death penalty for minors, juvenile murder convictions still bring heavy sentences, which may include life in prison with or without the possibility of parole.
If convicted of any felony, especially a homicide, your child’s life will be permanently affected. Aside from prison time, convicted defendants convicted of homicides often face severe hardships after years in prison when they eventually attempt to re-enter society, which result from a diminished ability to find a job, acquire education, and a lasting stigma with which they are often identified by society.
The juvenile justice system usually opts for rehabilitation, which is often overlooked in the adult system, rather than incarceration. For juveniles 14 and under, even serious charges like murder are usually heard in the juvenile courts and a child adjudicated delinquent is held in a juvenile detention facility where rehabilitative services are available. Older defendants are typically tried as adults for the most serious charges.
Categories of homicide charges
When dealing with murder, not all charges are equal. The most severely punished count is first degree murder (premeditated murder). There is also second degree murder (deliberate murder without premeditation), manslaughter (causing a death through reckless behavior), and negligent homicide (killing someone through negligent behavior, including vehicular homicide).
In many cases, plea bargaining may reduce a charge to a lesser one in exchange for a guilty plea. In some cases, this may be the best option for a juvenile likely to be found guilty at trial. Because of this, it is essential to seek an experienced juvenile defense attorney to protect your child’s future by working for reduced charges.
Defenses to murder
A child defendant may lack the maturity and rationality an adult and may be badgered into a false confession. The child may not have any real understanding of the stakes involved. Or there may be a variety of facts or extenuating circumstances that could exonerate the child. Was the death an accident, for example one resulting from a gun going off accidentally? Did the child act in self defense? Was the child being abused? Is the child’s IQ less than normal? Does the child have the mental capacity to understand the charges and assist in his or her own defense? Was the confession coerced? These and other circumstances are all things that the defense attorney must ascertain when defending a juvenile faced with homicide charges.
Jeremy Geigle’s experience and impressive track record as a juvenile defense attorney make him the right choice for your child’s defense. Mr. Geigle has the experience necessary to effectively evaluate every case he takes on to ensure the most desirable outcome is reached.
Jeremy Geigle and the juvenile defense lawyers at Jackson White Law in Phoenix understand the harmful effects of juvenile convictions and seek to ensure that your child is protected from injustice. With so much at stake, the child accused of homicide needs a lawyer who will leave no stone unturned to demonstrate lack of culpability and ensure that the child’s constitutional rights are meticulously upheld.
Jackson White represents homicide defendants in Phoenix, Mesa, and all of Arizona.
Make an appointment for a free initial consultation. The juvenile defendant should be instructed not to make any statement to the police of prosecutor without an attorney present.