When Doing The Crime Leads To Paying The Fine For Juveniles
When you do the crime you gotta pay the fine. Makes sense, right? After all, when teens get caught up in illegal activities, they often result in costly outcomes that impact victims. It’s only fair to expect those juveniles to pay up and reduce the burden on their victims, right? Unfortunately, as logical as that may sound, there are a slew of (unintended?) consequences with a system that tacks fines onto juvenile sentences.
What We Know
Across America, criminal cases involving minors jam up juvenile courts to the tune of about 800,000 annually. Often, those courts attach restitution, fines and fees for criminal sentences, payable in addition to or in lieu of incarceration and/or prolonged periods of probation. The obvious consequence is that indigent youth—frequently Black and brown kids– are locked up with greater frequency than wealthier white kids, or else those indigent kids and their families are strapped with crippling debt. Either way, fees associated with sentencing can make digging out of debt virtually impossible.
Still Think Offenders Reap What They Sow?
Some people may think that, well, these kids should have thought about the drawbacks before they committed their crimes. They need to be taught responsibility and that actions have consequences. Fair enough. But keep in mind that the juvenile system is intended to rehabilitate juvenile offenders. While that may include punishment, it is also supposed to focus on counseling, guidance, and targeted assistance. How is strapping youth offenders with financial burdens that they cannot possibly handle helpful? Beyond that, how can a two-tiered system of “justice” that addresses underage defendants differently based on their ability to pay up be in anyone’s best interest?
One More Thing…
If that isn’t enough to convince you that hefty fines and financial penalties for juvenile offenders is a bad idea, consider this: the majority of victims do not seek restitution for crimes committed by juveniles, and only a small percentage ever actually receive restitution. For anyone who believes that victims deserve compensation for damage caused by juvenile offenders, it’s clear that there needs to be some other way to make that happen.
We’re Talking About Children
The bottom line in all of this, though, is that we are talking about juvenile offenders. Children. Young people who, according to ample research, are often incapable of making sound decisions or understanding the consequences of their actions at the time they commit their crimes. In no way does it make sense to strap these youngsters with crippling debt that lasts long after they age out of the juvenile system.
Options for Juveniles
If you are the parent of a juvenile offender, you may well recognize that your child has been accused of criminal activity and consequences are all but inevitable. At Lobo Law, our efficient Las Vegas juvenile crimes attorneys are committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for our clients. To discuss the possibilities, schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.