A Paradigm for the Proper Use of Pre-Majority Conduct in Prosecuting Criminal Offenses
37 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2021
Date Written: 2020
Minors sometimes break the law. In order to insulate them from the rigorous regime of adult prosecution, which almost entirely discounts rehabilitation as a goal, the federal government, like the several states, generally redresses ostensibly criminal behavior by persons younger than eighteen years old in a juvenile system. Of course, not all minors and pre-majority conduct, that is, conduct of persons under eighteen years old, are excluded from the federal criminal justice system. A young person’s record of transgressions and the characteristics of the offense are logical considerations that might weigh in favor of adult treatment. Geography, however, is not as natural a factor; yet, because of a long-standing split among the United States Circuit Courts of Appeals, geography plays a larger role than it should in determining whether and to what extent some minors might be punished for criminal behavior that spans their eighteenth birthdays. This article examines the conflict among the circuits regarding the intersection of the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Act and continuing offenses; it then presents a four-part paradigm for handling these cases.
Keywords: juvenile, juvenile justice, juvenile delinquency, JDA, circuit split, criminal law, racketeering, conspiracy
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