Despite what some Michiganders may think, the law does not treat everyone equally. Those who have previous criminal offenses, for example, may be subjected to harsher penalties upon a subsequent conviction. Many may see this as justifiable, but it is important to note that even those who have an extensive criminal record are innocent until they are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, they should fully prepare themselves to face an aggressive prosecution in an attempt to raise that doubt.
Another group of individuals that are often treated differently under the law are juveniles. Typically, those convicted of a juvenile offense are given lesser penalties, recognizing that they are young, have made a mistake, and will likely change their behavior upon reaching maturity. This seems logical, and may be the best way to rehabilitate a youth who has been found guilty of a crime. Unfortunately, though, there are many criminal offenses in Michigan that can cause a juvenile to be treated like an adult, if he or she is convicted.
The list of offenses that fall into this category is quite extensive. A juvenile who is convicted of arson, assault with intent to commit murder, murder, kidnapping, armed robbery or criminal sexual conduct can wind up facing adult sentencing if he or she is found guilty. There are, of course, other factors a court will take into consideration, including the extent of the youth’s participation in the crime, his or her criminal history and the seriousness of the crime.
Despite the potential for more severe penalties, the statutory elements that must be shown to obtain a conviction remain the same, regardless of the defendant. This means that a juvenile can, and should, mount an aggressive criminal defense that knows how to raise reasonable doubt and utilize mitigating elements. Mitigating elements include the defendant’s age and, if applicable, limited participation in the crime at hand.
Source: Mi.gov, “Section 769.1,” accessed on March 11, 2016