Shortly after investigators obtained an arrest warrant, a 13-year-old child, with the help of his family, surrendered to LaGrange police. The warrant stated that he will be charged as an adult.
The fatal shooting occurred near the intersection of Colquitt and McGregor in LaGrange. A little over a week after the shooting, Mike Meredith, with the NAACP of Troup County, assisted the family with the defendant’s surrender. “We got a call from the family,” he said. “It was orderly. There was a lot of emotions and a lot of family support.”
Investigators said the defendant and 20-year-old victim knew each other. “I know they were familiar with each other. I can’t really comment on their exact relationship at this time, but they were familiar,” Lt. Mark Cavender said. “We know there are other parties involved in this.”
Juveniles Charged as Adults in Georgia
At least for the most part, when juveniles commit violent crimes in Cobb County, 13 and 17 are the two milestone birthdays which determine criminal court venue (location).
Juveniles between thirteen and seventeen may be charged in adult or juvenile court if they commit violent crimes. The line between violent and nonviolent is a little blurry. Offenses like murder, assault, and sexual assault are clearly violent. Offenses like stalking are usually nonviolent, although many stalking victims would disagree with that assessment.
Generally, these offenses start in criminal court. A judge has almost absolute discretion to transfer an under-17 violent crime to juvenile court. That’s where a Marietta criminal defense lawyer comes into play. Attorneys often successfully remove these proceedings to juvenile court, where outcomes stress rehabilitation as opposed to punishment. Attorneys generally use a two-prong approach in these situations.
Out of court, the defendant should apologize to the victim or the victim’s family. This statement cannot be an “I’m sorry I got caught” apology. A sincere apology that shows true remorse, along with actions that back up that remorse, often gets victims and survivors into a defendant’s corner. At the very least, these efforts often convince victims or survivors to rethink the matter, be open to transfer, and not vigorously oppose the motion.
In court, “before and after” arguments often convince judges to transfer cases. For example, if the defendant lived in a bad environment and that environment is now different, many judges see hope for rehabilitation. Additionally, these crossover juvenile/adult cases are very complex. Many judges are more than willing to pass the buck to someone else.
Violent crime defendants over seventeen, or technically people who are over sixteen years and 363 days old, must be charged as adults. No ifs, ands, or buts.
A few exceptions apply. Children over 13 who commit possible death penalty of LWOP (life without parole) crimes must be tried as adults. The same thing applies if a 14-year-old commits a violent crime while in custody or a 15-year-old has three prior convictions.
Possible change is on the horizon. In March 2023, the Georgia House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to raise the age to 17. The bill faces an uncertain future, and even if it passes, it will not take effect until at least 2025.
Usually, law enforcement investigations move up the ladder. Police detain suspects and offer them leniency if they roll over on the co-conspirators or on alleged criminal masterminds.
Officers usually rely on intimidation during such detentions. Normally, intimidation tactics aren’t illegal. However, officers must promptly and properly advise suspects of their Miranda rights.
Promptly means reading suspects their rights the moment they don’t feel free to leave. Most people don’t feel free to leave when officers approach their vehicles and tell them to step out of the car. Properly means reading the Miranda rights in a language the suspect understands. Many 13-year-olds don’t understand three-syllable words like “appointed.” In fact, many 13-year-olds have trouble with two-syllable words, like “remain” and “against.”
Before they interrogate juvenile suspects, officers must dumb down the Miranda rights but not change their meaning in the slightest way.
Roll-overs are questionable, at best. If interrogators say “Give us a name and we’ll go away,” most people would say almost anything to make them go away, or at least improve their situations. Therefore, if a warrant affidavit has no corroborating proof, a Marietta criminal defense lawyer can successfully argue that officers didn’t have probable cause.
Incidentally, police officers don’t have the power to drop or reduce charges. Only prosecutors have that authority.
We’ve said this many times, but it bears repeating. Nothing kickstarts a criminal defense better than prompt jail release. Most jurors assume that incarcerated people are bad people who did something wrong. So, the presumption of innocence, one of the best tools in a Marietta criminal defense lawyer’s toolbox, loses its edge, at best.
If the defendant is charged with a violent crime, regardless of the defendant’s age or any other circumstances, own recognizance release is usually off the table. Fortunately, two viable jail release alternatives remain.
Most people have little or no savings. Therefore, cash bail (paying the entire bond amount to secure release) normally isn’t the best alternative. However, if you’re going to go into debt for anything, freedom is probably that thing.
Bonding companies usually charge about a 15 percent premium to submit a bail bond to the county. So, if the cash amount is $10,000, a bail bond would be about $1,500.
In both cases, defendants must abide by all pretrial release conditions. These conditions usually include, at a minimum, remaining in the county and avoiding further legal trouble. Offense-specific conditions, like a keep-away order in an assault case, are common as well.
Extremely serious crimes, like murder, usually require bail reduction hearings. The sheriff either doesn’t set a presumptive bail amount or sets it at an outlandishly high figure. If the defendant isn’t a serious flight risk, a Marietta criminal defense lawyer can usually lower the amount.
Georgia laws include complex rules for juvenile crimes. For a free consultation with an experienced Marietta criminal defense attorney, contact The Phillips Law Firm, LLC. Convenient payment plans are available.