Louisiana’s justice system generally prosecutes an individual 17 years of age and younger as a juvenile when he or she faces a charge involving a non-violent offense. If the allegations consist of committing a violent offense, such as homicide, a prosecutor may instead choose to try the juvenile as an adult, as noted by The Associated Press News.
Examples of non-violent offenses include theft, drug possession and underage drinking and driving. A prosecutor, however, may view a 17-year-old offender as an adult if a theft involves a weapon or when impaired driving resulted in a death.
How a juvenile offender might serve a sentence
Offenders tried and convicted as juveniles may serve their sentences in a facility that houses their similarly aged peers. As reported by The Daily Advertiser, the Bayou State’s detention facilities house approximately 80% of juveniles convicted of non-violent offenses.
Under certain circumstances, the court may approve of a juvenile serving an alternative sentence. This may include home confinement, electronic monitoring or probation. Some offenders may need to engage in community service or attend a substance abuse treatment program as part of their alternative sentencing.
Juvenile prosecution may result in better long-term outcomes
Juvenile detention generally works to rehabilitate young offenders. It strives to reduce the possibility of them repeating their mistakes. A facility that houses their peers rather than older adults helps to prevent isolation. It also reduces the risk of physical or emotional abuse.
Convicted juveniles may receive education and training to become productive members of society when released. Juveniles who successfully carry out their sentence may not need to show their offense as a criminal record. A background check showing a conviction may otherwise affect their ability to find a job or apply for admission at a college.