Youthful Offender Crimes

Youthful Offender Crimes In Birmingham

When an individual is under twenty one years of age and is charged with committing a criminal offense, Alabama law allows the individual to be treated by the court as a “youthful offender.” Youthful offender charges involve a unique status with which many individuals are unfamiliar. As a result of the relatively new existence of the  “youthful offender” classification in the state of Alabama, individuals in Birmingham frequently decide to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney when faced with a “youthful offender” charge. This article will discuss some critical information that individuals in Birmingham must understand when faced with youthful offender crimes.

What Is The Youthful Offender Act

The state of Alabama enacted the Youthful Offender Act in the 1970's. This Act was designed with the belief that individuals that are young may more readily and appropriately respond to rehabilitative treatments rather than punishments. For many young individuals who face juvenile charges, it can be a wise idea to consider a youthful offender charge.

There are two important points that individuals must remember when considering applying as a Youthful Offender: (1) the Act applies only to individuals who are under the age of twenty one, and (2) the trial judge involved with the case has almost total discretion in deciding whether a young defendant should be treated as a youthful offender.

What is Unique About Youthful Offender Crimes

The youthful offender designation of a juvenile by a judge has several particular benefits, which can greatly influence how a case proceeds. These benefits to a youthful offender status include the following advantages:

  • Not Treated As A Conviction. When a youthful offender status is granted, even if an individual is found guilty of the charged offense, the offense will not show up on the individual's record as a conviction. Instead of being treated as a conviction, courts will treat the charge as an adjudication. Unlike convicted individuals, adjudicated youthful offenders will not lose particular civil rights like the right to vote.
    • Reduced Sentence Length. If the individual is charged with a felony, the youthful offender status drastically reduces the range of punishment in the case to a maximum sentence of three years. For some felonies that result in a substantial incarceration time, this reduced sentence advantage offered by class c felonies is extremely advantageous.
  • Seals Case Records. The granting of a youthful offender status also seals the record of a case. Any details about arrests, charges, and court proceedings are made off limit to anyone not involved in the case. Sealed records can prove extremely advantageous to many individuals who might be negatively affected if education institutes or future employers were to discover this information.

The Disadvantage Of Youthful Offender Status

In agreeing to be treated as a youthful offender, an individual must surrender the individual's right to a trial by jury. Instead of a jury trial, any trial only occurs before a judge in a proceeding that is closed to the public.

How A Talented Birmingham Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

Individuals who are charged with a criminal offense and eligible for a youthful offender status must carefully weigh all of the available options. A skilled and experienced Birmingham attorney at Eversole Law Offices can greatly help clients in Birmingham determine what is in a client's best interest when a youthful offender charge is involved. Do not hesitate to contact our firm today.

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