Juvenile Justice and the Teenage Brain: How Long Do Kids Pay for Crimes?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jan 10, 2023 | 0 Comments

Everyone makes bad decisions in their teenage years. When those bad decisions are criminal offenses, however, the effects of the choices made in our youth can haunt us for decades. If your teenager is facing criminal charges, you need the help of the Lento Law Firm's New Jersey criminal defense team to ensure that your child does not face a lifetime of consequences for a youthful impulse.

Adult Serving Life After Teenaged Murder Wins New Appeal

Recently, a 52-year-old New Jersey man who committed his crimes in 1986 won the opportunity to argue for a new sentence based on his youth at the time of his offense. Casey Terry pled guilty to murder and sexual assault on his 18th birthday for a crime he had committed as a 16-year-old. He was sentenced to life in prison and was ineligible for parole for forty years.

Terry filed a Comer petition, named for a 2017 New Jersey Supreme Court case. The Comer decision recognized the science behind the fact that juvenile brains are not as developed as adult brains. As a young person's brain develops past adolescence and into adulthood, they lose much of the impulsivity, impetuousness, and risky behavior that characterized their teenage years.

In the Comer case, the justices agreed that it constituted cruel and unusual punishment to sentence a teenage offender to life in prison without eligibility for parole. Instead, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided that people who were convicted as juveniles could apply for parole after twenty years. In Terry's case, because he was 16 when his crime was committed and had already served 35 years in prison, he was granted a review of his sentence.

Don't Let Youthful Mistakes Have Lifelong Consequences

There can be little doubt that the decision-making processes of a 16-year-old boy are significantly different from those of a 52-year-old man. While the Comer decision helps people like Casey Terry have their sentences reevaluated, Terry spent over three-and-a-half decades in prison before he won that option. There is also no guarantee that Terry will be released from prison—he simply won the right to argue that he should be.

Decisions that young people make in their teenage years can wreak havoc on their lives for decades in the future. Criminal charges as a juvenile can result in a myriad of negative consequences. Their education may be disrupted due to being suspended or expelled or because they are required to serve time in a facility. They may face difficulty getting into college or finding a job with a criminal record. Teenagers who commit certain crimes may lose their driving privileges and much of their independence.

The consequences of criminal behavior as a teenager can reach far beyond their adolescent years. If your child is facing criminal charges, it is important to get help to lessen some of these consequences and negotiate a resolution that works for your family. Retain New Jersey criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the juvenile justice professionals at the Lento Law Firm today by calling 888.535.3686.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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