Teens are often involved in criminal mischief—graffiti and property damage, shoplifting and minor theft, as well as drinking related crimes. In a recent case, three Alabama teens were allegedly involved in a more serious criminal offense and have been charged with two counts of first-degree robbery and one count of discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle for ATM robberies that allegedly took place in October. According to reports, the 17-year-old defendants robbed individuals at two separate drive-up ATMs.
Criminal defendants under 18 will often be charged and sentenced through the juvenile court system. The criminal justice system for minors is usually more forgiving, and there is greater opportunity for the record to be expunged once the child or teen becomes an adult.
In some cases, prosecutors can request to have a case moved from juvenile to adult court if the crime is severe and meets certain criteria. Any juvenile needs strategic criminal defense to prevent being over-charged. This is especially true for juveniles being charged in adult court. Investigating officers claimed the three teens in this case would be charged as adults because the crimes of which they are accused were violent and involved the use of weapons. Under Alabama state law, cases that are violent while armed will automatically transfer to adult criminal court.
Based on reports, there were two separate ATM robberies that took place on Oct. 8, 2014. According to one victim who was withdrawing cash from an ATM, the teens approached his car wielding guns and demanded money. When the victim drove away, the teens reportedly shot into his vehicle. Another victim claimed the same suspects followed her home and used a firearm to rob her.
According to police reports, video surveillance taken at the ATMs and nearby businesses were used to identify the suspects. In the state of Alabama, first-degree robbery is a class B felony and carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The crime of discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle is a class C felony and can carry a maximum sentence of 10 years behind bars.
Cases involving violent crimes, especially when defendants were allegedly carrying weapons or fired shots, can result in serious penalties upon conviction. Our Birmingham juvenile defense attorneys are experienced in reviewing allegations and police reports, collecting and preserving additional evidence, and pursuing a strategic and aggressive defense on behalf of our clients. Our priority is to make sure every defendant is fairly and adequately represented in court to prevent unjust charges and penalties. For juveniles, we will also remain aware of potential alternative sentencing options.
Teens are known to make mistakes and for some, getting involved with the wrong crowd at a young age can be life-altering, even dangerous. For young defendants facing adult-level charges, retaining an attorney with a wealth of experience and proven success is critical.
These teens will be charged as adults, meaning that they will also face adult penalties if convicted. Strategic counsel and defense for juveniles is often the best chance they will have for reduced or dismissed charges. We are committed to vigorously protecting our clients’ rights and interests.