Deciding whether teens tried as minors or adults


COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – Prosecutors have not released the name of the 14-year-old arrested for the shootings at Townville Elementary School because of his age, and they must still decide whether he will be tried as a juvenile or an adult. In South Carolina, a child under the age of 17 is automatically tried as a juvenile in Family Court, unless a prosecutor asks a judge to have him tried as an adult.

Josh Gupta-Kagan, a USC law professor who teaches juvenile justice, says, “That often involves its own very involved hearing, a lot of evaluations of the child to determine their developmental state, their mental health, their family background, anything which may play into the decision. The courts will usually look at the severity of the charges, the amount of premeditation, if any, that’s alleged by the state. And also one of the phrases that’s often used is whether the child is amenable to treatment. Can the rehabilitative model of the juvenile court serve this child, or does the interest of the public or the child require him to be waived up?”


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