Thursday, August 9, 2007

They made a federal case out of it!

Remember that stuff they told you about the delinquency charge you (or your child) had? They said it was o.k. to admit to it even if you didn't agree 100% with the allegations because it would go away and wouldn't be a problem when you were an adult, right? They said that delinquency charges don't affect your record once you grow up, right?

Well, apparently, that is unless you get in trouble again.

What went on in juvenile court can be used against you as an adult in setting your bail and in determining your sentence for adult crimes.

Now, the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has made a federal case out of it. In U.S. v. Matthews, (Nos. 05-1655, 05-1925, decided August 7, 2007) the court ruled that a Massachusetts delinquency finding could be used as a predicate violent felony to invoke the federal Armed Career Criminal Act ("ACCA") and impose a statutory minimum fifteen-year term of imprisonment. See 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1).

And they're not the only ones! The court cites to several other cases in which delinquency findings from various states have been held as valid bases for the imposition of those enhanced penalties.

The case isn't even about the numerous other types of collateral consequences of delinquency and other findings, including immigration, citizenship, driver's license, housing and financial aid issues. Make sure you talk about all of those with defense counsel when considering whether to take a plea deal or how vigorously to contest charges at trial.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

"Unruly Schoolboys or Sex Offenders?"

This article shows that what kids may think of as mere "fun" can have serious consequences that could ruin their lives.

What do you think? Is this kind of mischief just fun or something more serious. How would you represent the boys? The girls? Did the school principle or police over-react? What consequences should be considered?