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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-06-12, 05:35 PM Thread Starter
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Default US Law and legal conundrum?

The other day I was looking at youtube and on the side a "what's new today" type clip popped up and I was quite surprised at the title.
This is the clip in question :

It's about a 12 year old boy who at the age of 11 shot and killed his future step-mother (who was 8 months pregnant) with a shotgun and then just went to school like nothing happened. In the USA if a minor commits a murder they are automatically charged as adults, this in turn means they can be sentenced to death or life in prison.

Here is the question; If you had a kid that killed someone and now faced either a death sentence or life in prison, how far would you go to save their life? or would you simply stop loving them and wish them dead?
The problem that struck me was the point that the kid committed an adult crime so should be punished like one. I can sorta see the point but what will happen when a desperate parent pays a prostitute or similar to have sex with their child, record it on video and then puts it on the internet.

The court is saying that the child committed an adult crime so should be punished like one, would the video be considered child porn?

I'm 100% certain this will happen sooner or later as a court can't say a child is an adult in a murder case and a child in a porno case. There is no way in hell they would say the child is an adult so the porno should be considered adult porn.

A parent desperate enough to "save" their child from a death sentence or life in prison will eventually do this, I'm surprised it hasn't happened yet.

Quite the conundrum isn't it...


If I'm not mistaken you can be charged with a crime at the age of 10 in the UK, here in Finland you are considered a minor until the age of 15 or 16.
Then again neither of these countries has a death penalty or (afaik) a life sentence that actually means you stay in prison until the day you die.
Max in Finland is 20 years, with a life sentence being on average between 12-15 years.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-06-12, 05:53 PM
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WTF?

No-one is saying that they are adults, they are saying that for the purpose of that crime it is judged that they knew the difference between right and wrong sufficiently well to be treated as adults.

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-06-12, 06:13 PM
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I'm confused mate... what's the porn crime? Being in a porno isn't illegal...

It can't be prostitution either, they aren't paying...
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-06-12, 06:30 PM Thread Starter
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WTF?

No-one is saying that they are adults, they are saying that for the purpose of that crime it is judged that they knew the difference between right and wrong sufficiently well to be treated as adults.
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I'm confused mate... what's the porn crime? Being in a porno isn't illegal...

It can't be prostitution either, they aren't paying...
The big question is, if you have a 12 year old that is charged with murder and being treated as an adult in a sex video, would the court consider the movie child porn or not?

If they say yes this would basically legalise a porn video of a 12 year old having sex.

If they say no how could they then justify the 12 year old being charged as an adult in the murder case? If he is old enough to know the difference between right and wrong regarding murder then why wouldn't he be mature enough to know the difference between right and wrong regarding sex.


This can happen as in the US you can get released on bail until the trial is over and the sentences in the US basically means life or death in murder cases.

Last edited by MadCowCrazy; 05-06-12 at 06:35 PM.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-06-12, 06:42 PM
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They are children, if they appear in a porn video then its child pornography.. that's an easy one.

If they commit murder then they are still children, just children being charged with a crime as an adult: for the sole purpose of that crime and that crime alone they are judged to be an adult.



As for knowing the difference between right and wrong: they might struggle to understand the ramifications of their actions in some cases.... but murder is a fairly simple one to understand. Trying to explain to 2 underage kids that want to have sex with each other why its against the law might be a struggle (yes I'm using a more subtle example), but taking a shotgun to someone certainly isn't any shade of grey... anyone who isn't a complete moron would understand that from a very early age. But I would still be astonished if the kids lawyers didn't try to use this as part of his defense, especially since the kid just calmly went to school afterwards: obviously he is either a psychopath or doesn't understand his actions (which I don't believe for a second).


Now, if you wanted to debate whether the US is right to try juveniles as adults, or what the age limit of being charged with an adult should be I would think it a good thread, worthy of debate... but I just find this debate both stupid and kinda sick.

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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-06-12, 06:52 PM
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I don't think, just as with a teacher and a pupil, that a child actualy commits a crime having sex with an adult - the adult clearly does, but I am fairly sure the child never gets convicted, as the onus is on the adult to refuse.

Now, if we were discussing a child making the video on their own, of them and, perhaps a paraplegic they were taking advantage of, then I'd say they committed a crime - but otherwise the parent and the prostitute are the only ones legally 'wrong' here.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-06-12, 07:27 PM Thread Starter
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Now, if you wanted to debate whether the US is right to try juveniles as adults, or what the age limit of being charged with an adult should be I would think it a good thread, worthy of debate... but I just find this debate both stupid and kinda sick.
I just thought I had found a loophole in the US legal system regarding minors being charged as adults.


On the issue of minors being charged of crimes I'm a bit torn, I believe in second chances as that saved my life.

From my understanding the justice system here in Finland is based on forgiveness and the just system in the US is based on "revenge" (as in your did something stupid so now you have to spend the rest of your life in prison).

The 3 strike system on the other hand I both understand and dont, I understand it for crimes like drugs, theft and things like that but not for choplifting a 50cent donut...

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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-06-12, 08:03 PM
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I think you could just argue that is eugenics: anyone stupid enough to commit any crime deliberately when they know they'll end up in prison for life if they are caught should not be allowed to procreate.

The 3 strike system just seems like a throwback to a much older legal system, back when capital punishment was much more prevalent... which seems odd when the US isn't really all that old. But then I guess the US has developed quickly from a much more barbaric environment (I'm thinking of the Wild West and shotgun justice when I say that) compared with European countries which have had many hundreds of years longer to develop their legal systems.

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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-06-12, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by MadCowCrazy View Post
I just thought I had found a loophole in the US legal system regarding minors being charged as adults.


On the issue of minors being charged of crimes I'm a bit torn, I believe in second chances as that saved my life.
The US system supports second chances for kids as well, unless they kill someone in cold, calculated murder. The child in the video you linked above planned the murder, preformed the act, then tried to cover it up so as to not get caught. He was fully aware of what his actions were and should be tried as an adult. Just because he is below a certain age he shouldn't get a free pass.

Quote:
From my understanding the justice system here in Finland is based on forgiveness and the just system in the US is based on "revenge" (as in your did something stupid so now you have to spend the rest of your life in prison).
What does a justice system based on "forgiveness" do? I'm actually quite curious as to what that entails.

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The 3 strike system on the other hand I both understand and dont, I understand it for crimes like drugs, theft and things like that but not for shoplifting a 50cent donut...
There is no point in having a 3 strike system if it's only going to count for certain crimes. You also contradicted yourself in your statement in that you support it for theft, but not shoplifting a $0.50 donut.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-06-12, 09:21 PM Thread Starter
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What does a justice system based on "forgiveness" do? I'm actually quite curious as to what that entails.
Well, the sentence for first degree murder is life which means you will only be released when the president signs a paper allowing you to get out, you are allowed to appeal to the president after 10 years or such. Normally life is between 12-15 years if I recall correctly.

Murder in the second degree is max 8 years unless there are circumstances that would suggest a lower sentence is more justified.

You also sit 50% of the sentence if you are a first time criminal (Life is the exception to this rule, if you are a repeat felon you sit 75% of the sentence).
So if you murder someone and is convicted of second degree murder you will spend max 4 years in prison with 4 year probation.

You are basically given a second chance at life.

The same crimes in the US would be either a death sentence or life (you actually spend the rest of your life in prison be it 50-100years you spend in there) depending on what state you live in.

2nd degree murder (according to wikipedia)
Imprisonment for life or any other term
(There is no federal parole for murder, sentencing guidelines: 1925 years with clean record, 30-life with serious past offenses).

Lets say a 20 year old is convicted of 2nd degree murder in the US, comes out at the age of 40. What will this person bring society? What valuable skills will this person have that are desirable? What if this person has no relatives to live with? or they simply refuse all contact with this person?

My guess would be to live on social benefits until able to find a job which will most likely not happen with a criminal record and especially 2nd degree murder. I'm not even sure everyone is entitled to social benefits in the US?
I'm sure there are great programs for education and rehabilitation in prison, this would explain why so few end up in there again...

I'm no expert on the subject other than personal experience but my brain tells me it might be easier to integrate someone back into society after 4 years in prison compared to 20 years...

Then again with the speed at which things are developed currently, if you take a 3 year computer course what you learnt during the first year will be outdated by the time you complete your studies.


I'm biased though, I look at the US justice system as a kind of slave labour institution. I would guess inmates are cheaper to employ than regular citizens, from what I saw one one documentary most number plates in the us are made by prisoners.

Then again I heard that prisoners in China are put on computers to farm gold in WoW and other mmos as a way of earning money, sounds silly but it wouldn't surprise me if it was true.
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