Virginia State Senate Rejects Proposal to Try Repeat Juvenile Offenders as Adults

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A Virginia Senate committee shot down a proposed bill that would have automatically transferred juveniles with repeat violent offenses to adult courts.

Under Gov. Robert McDonnell’s proposal, juveniles as young as 14 could have been tried as adults in Virginia’s courts.

The bill, supported by Gov. McDonnell and sponsored by State Sen. Bill Stanley -- both Republicans -- would have also given prosecutors the ability to try juveniles charged with specific gang-related crimes or multiple drug offenses as adults.

Had the bill passed, minors with more than one offense of selling marijuana could have potentially been prosecuted as adults within the state’s judicial system.

By an 11-4 vote, a state Senate committee rejected the legislation, with several of the sitting members stating that they were reluctant to pass a bill that took away the discretion of judges.

Earlier this year, a state Senate committee passed a bill that would require juveniles older than 13 to be listed as registered sex offenders if they are convicted of rape, forcible sodomy or object sexual penetration in a juvenile court. The legislation also gives state judges limited ability to retroactively place juveniles already found delinquent of serious sexual offenses on registration lists, which would only be available to law-enforcement personnel.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

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