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11-year-old accused of robbery won't be tried as an adult

A crime committed as a juvenile does not always yield age-appropriate punishments. Sometimes crimes committed by juveniles can be tried in adult court. Virginia law defines when a juvenile can be punished as an adult and what offenses cause a juvenile to be tried as an adult. These laws were recently looked at in a case that includes an 11-year-old boy north of Richmond.

In the case concerning the 11-year-old, the boy was arrested by police -- along with two accomplices -- and is being accused of shoving a man on a street and stealing his cell phone. The 11-year-old was allegedly found in a nearby parking lot with the man's cell phone.

The boy will not be prosecuted as an adult because according to Virginia law, juveniles younger than age 14 cannot be prosecuted for any type of felony. The boy will, however, be tried in a special section of district court for juvenile crimes and other types of domestic relations cases. If the boy was between the ages of 14 and 17 he could possibly have been tried as an adult because robbery is one of the felonies that allows juveniles older than 14 to be tried as an adult. Other felonies eligible for children to be treated as adults include murder, rape and some drug offenses.

Since the accused is only 11-years-old, Virginia law also mandates that the boy's record remain sealed and if he is found guilty the potential penalties will be less severe.

The accused juvenile in this case would likely benefit from putting forth an aggressive defense because the details of the case are unclear and are still being investigated. However, regardless of the outcome he is lucky that he is under age 14 and will not be tried as an adult. However, without the right help, he could still face significant punishments that could affect him for years to come.

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Boy, 11, charged in Richmond robbery to be tried as juvenile," Joe Macenka, Aug. 24, 2013