“Raise the Age” Plan could change the Face of Criminal Law in Michigan

Michigan is known as one of the most unforgiving states for those charged with juvenile crimes. Unlike most states, our state charges 17-year-old children as adults when a criminal act is charged. New legislation could provide relief for those that have not reached the age of majority.

One of the sponsors of the “Raise the Age” plan is Senator Peter J. Lucido (R-Shelby Township) who is an attorney and a former probation officer. Lucido recently told The Detroit Metro Times that the bill represented a momentous day for our state. To learn more about the Lucido sponsored bill, we spoke to some of the top criminal lawyers in the state of Michigan to gain their insight into the new legislation.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates, which is known as the top criminal defense firm in the state of Michigan. When asked about the legislation, Grabel stated, “Far too often we see young people charged with crimes as adults. Our criminal justice system is supposed to have more forgiveness for the young and the elderly. This bill will go a long way to protecting the freedom of our young people.”

William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates. Amadeo is known as one of the top criminal defense lawyers in Washtenaw and Shiawassee Counties. When asked about the legislation, Amadeo said, “It’s ridiculous that a kid in high school can be sent to the Michigan Department of Corrections for having consensual sex with one of their peers, but that is where our state currently at. I hope that Senator Lucido follows through with the application of this law. There is a reason that the HYTA statute has been expanded. The juvenile mind is still developing until the age of 24 or even longer. There needs to be more understanding for our youthful offenders. We should not prosecute without seeing both sides of whom the law will affect.”

Christian Wiesenberg is an up and coming criminal defense attorney in Livingston County. When asked about the new law, Wiesenberg stated, “I deal with a lot of young defendants, and much of your defense is based on geography. The way that Livingston County deals with juveniles is far different than Wayne County. This new legislation will provide another arsenal for the criminal defense lawyer.”

While the new bill looks favorable on its face to protecting juvenile offenders with the expansion of the age to make adult prosecutions start at 18, how courts apply the new law has yet to be seen. The defense attorney will potentially have more options. Still, black letter law in and out itself will not change the outcomes of criminal prosecutions. The criminal lawyer will have to be on top of the legislation and may have to educate the courts on the new statute.

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