There’s been quite a bit of coverage in the media lately about the
recent ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court regarding sentences of life in
prison without parole for juveniles. This ruling is expected to impact
several cases here in Arizona that may now be re-opened and reviewed to
see if the sentences were too harsh for criminals that were too young.
The truth is, the most common crimes committed by juveniles in Arizona
rarely come with life-long sentences. That’s not to say that penalties
for juvenile crimes are light. When you commit a crime as a juvenile,
you will be punished and the consequences can have long-term effects on
both the life of the offender and on his or her family.
Here are four of the most common juvenile crimes committed in Arizona and
their potential penalties:
Alcohol Violations (Underage drinking, DUI)
In Arizona, the legal drinking age is 21, which means that anyone younger
caught drinking or in possession of alcohol can be charged with a crime.
Some of the most common underage drinking crimes include soliciting alcohol,
possession, distributing to other minors and driving while intoxicated.
Arizona courts are very tough on any DUI crimes and especially those that
involve a minor. You can expect to spend at least 24 hours in jail, a
$1600 fine and to have your driver’s license suspended for up to
360 days for a first time DUI offense.
Theft – Shoplifting
Juvenile shoplifting is typically considered a petty theft and is charged
as a misdemeanor. However, if the value of stolen property is at least
$1000 or more, the perpetrator can be charged with a felony. Penalties
for juvenile theft or shoplifting often include restitution, which means
the juvenile must pay for the stolen property. Probation and court-ordered
counseling are also commonly imposed on the juvenile involved in the crime.
Illegal drugs such as marijuana and prescription-strength painkillers are
easily accessible these days, and it is not uncommon to see or hear of
teenagers experimenting with these drugs. It is a crime to be caught in
possession of any illegal drug no matter your age. In most cases, possession
of illegal drugs will be charged as a felony, which means that it is possible
that a juvenile offender could face time in prison. Keep in mind that
the drugs do not have to be found on their person for a juvenile to be
charged with possession. When drugs are found in locations that are considered
to be under the person’s control, such a school locker, backpack
or in their bedroom at home, the juvenile can still be charged with possession.
Also known as criminal damage, vandalism is the destruction or defacement
of property belonging to someone else without the owner’s permission.
Most cases of juvenile vandalism start out as nothing more than a prank
in the eyes of a young person. Some of the most common vandalism includes
graffiti, breaking windows, egging cars, defacing buildings and damaging
road signs. The problem is, depending on the circumstances, vandalism
charges can range from class 2 misdemeanors to class 4 felonies, which
carries steep penalties. A young person who engages in vandalism thinking
they are just having fun with friends could end up in jail.
These are the types of juvenile crimes we most often see at Naegle &
Crider. While none of these crimes will necessarily land a person in jail
for the rest of their life, they should still be taken seriously. Even
lesser penalties such as probation, can disrupt a young person’s
life and set them back.
If you are a parent of a young person who has been charged with a juvenile
crime, be sure to call Naegle & Crider Criminal Defense Attorneys
as soon as possible. Our goal is to help you and your child put this crime
behind you quickly so you can get back on track with your lives.