A 12-year-old girl who attempted to hold up a food market in Highland Township in early April, pelad guilty today to one count of armed robbery in the Oakland County Juvenile Court. She remains in custody until the next hearing and is being detained in the Oakland County Children’s Village.
Disposition in her case is scheduled before the Hon. Mary Ellen Brennen on May 31, 2011. In juvenile court, sentencing is referred to as disposition. She will participate in psychological testing before the next hearing.
The girl’s parents are in the middle of a bitter divorce. She later told investigators she wanted money to help hermother make the house payment. She attempted to rob the store wearing a black bandana and carrying a loaded handgun. Employees in the store detained her until police arrived.
“We’re seeing so many cases with younger and younger people,” Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper said. Apparently potential charges of home invasion are being considered because it was discovered that the girl stole the gun from one of her neighbor’s homes.
My question is that if the prosecutor’s office was so concerned with children’s welfare, why charge the girl and then order psychological testing? In this case, the news reported that her parents were in the midst of a bitter divorce; there were terrible financial problems and the parents were putting the girl in the middle of the chaos by telling her that they may lose their home due to financial problems. Really? Does a 12-year-old child need that kind of stress? Why not ask the girl to undergo psychological before the charges are issued so that the prosecutor can make an informed decision and not such a rush to judgment. This is an example of prosecutorial double-speak – on one hand they are concerned about kids and in the next breath – prosecutre…prosecute…prosecute.
Both the juvenile criminal justice system and the adult criminal justice system in Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, Washtenaw and Livingston Counties would be much more fair, thoughtful and just if time were taken before prosecutions to at least consider a defendant’s personal circumstances. Regrettabily, this is not done and it makes it that much more important for criminal and juvenile defendants to work with presistent, thoughtful, assertive and impassioned criminal defense lawyers.