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Yannick
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iG_nB7rdOr3TiaL5ph3YDR5qNNTAD94HQ2TG1

Okay, so the kid killed his dad and another guy, that's not what I'm focusing on. Yes, it was wrong, entirely, and the kid should get punished, but let's put that aside. Here's what concerns me:

1. Police are attempting to get him tried as an adult. He's eight. If you're going to trial an obvious minor as an adult, what's the point of having a difference in adult and kiddie cases anyway? How young is too young to *definitely* not be an adult? If he's technically an adult, then aren't I? I'm older, after all. If this had been done by a 5-year-old (8's a lot closer to 5 than it is 18), would police try to do the same? Are they insane?

2. The kid was interviewed by police without fully understanding his right to be silent and have a lawyer. Clearly he wouldn't have confessed otherwise. Is it just to use this in court against him?

Er.. Yeah. Discuss!
Phyllis
QUOTE (Yannick @ Nov 20 2008, 02:03 AM) *
How young is too young to *definitely* not be an adult?

I'd say 8 is definitely too young. I don't even remember what I knew about death at that age. My only experience with death prior to age 8 was my grandfather's death. I know that I was aware that he was gone for several years, but I am not entirely sure that I fully grasped the concept, you know? I am not sure that there should be an exact cut-off age, but I would consider most kids too young to be tried as an adult prior to hitting double digits.
QUOTE (Yannick @ Nov 20 2008, 02:03 AM) *
2. The kid was interviewed by police without fully understanding his right to be silent and have a lawyer. Clearly he wouldn't have confessed otherwise. Is it just to use this in court against him?

Probably not. The police have to make sure that a suspect understands his/her Miranda rights prior to questioning. Saying "You have the right to remain silent, blah blah, do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?" to an 8 year old is a different thing from saying it to a 38 year old. I wouldn't really expect a child to understand the full ramifications of confessing without first speaking to a lawyer.
Moosh
Okay, so in the story you linked it didn't say anything about him being tried as an adult, in fact it specifically says he was charged in juvenile court. So I looked up the BBC coverage of this here and that also doesn't say anything about being tried as an adult. Source please?

As far it goes, I'd say it would be absurd to try him as an adult, but I haven't seen any evidence of anyone wanting to do this.

As for your second point, I'd say it was wrong for the police to interview a minor without representation, but then I also think that no-one who doesn't want to be convicted should ever talk to the police, it can never do you any good at all. However, I wouldn't be so sure that the kid wouldn't have confessed if he was in full knowledge of his rights. If he did it then there's a good chance he would have confessed anyway. As long as the cops stuck to the rules as far as the interview went (and those rules really are very lax) then they have no reason not to use it against him. As long as they stuck to the letter they can be as manipulative and sneaky as they want in order to get a confession, that's the way the system works.
leopold
These are always thorny ones. But let's clear up a few things first.

  1. It's illegal for the police to interview minors (that is, anyone under the age of 16) without a member of the family and/or a suitable adult present. If they did this then the evidence is deemed unadmissible, the case gets thrown out and the Police Complaints Commission start their inevitable investigation.
  2. A child cannot be tried as an adult, as this is clearly silly. However, a child may be tried for a crime normally committed for adults and may be punished accordingly if it can be proved he understood what he was doing was wrong. At 8, a child can be deemed culpable, by which I mean an 8 year old child should be able to understand that killing someone is wrong and, if proved he/she does, then can be tried for murder or manslaughter accordingly.


Obviously that's paraphrasing British law, but from what I understand the US is very similar. Only the PCC is known as Internal Affairs.

Izzy, as much as you can say that 8 is nearer 5 than 18, this is only chronologically. In terms of mental development, a child's brain develops exponentially faster in its more formative years (usu. between 18 months and 5 years) than it does later on. By age 8, a child is normally fairly able to differentiate between what is good and what is bad.

My big problem with this case is that this child killed his own father. I find it unconscionable that he'd do this without any mitigating circumstances; either a really good motive or some mental issue. So instead of trying the child as a murderer, perhaps the child needs to speak to someone about what drove him to it in the first place. The concern I have is that if the child was abused, for example, then he will grow up resenting the very system that is supposed to be there to protect from that kind of thing and become anti-social, possibly going on to repeat what was done to him.
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