A Utah juvenile who was charged with choking an elderly woman while she played the organ at church will now have his case be viewed to the public.
A 71 year old woman was playing the organ at church late one night in November when someone came up behind her, choking her to the point of unconsciousness. Five months later, DNA evidence left at the scene by the suspect was linked to family members through a DNA database. With the linked DNA, investigators were able to track down a 17 year old boy and charge him with multiple felonies, including aggravated assault.
Juvenile cases and the public
When a juvenile commits a crime, the public may hear about the crime through news outlets when the story is deemed “newsworthy” or when reporters are grasping for any story during a dull week. Usually this information only contains the age of the juvenile and the details of the crime committed. Once the case goes to court, those proceedings are typically closed to protect unless the teen is charges as an adult. This protects the juvenile from public scorn and retaliation while increasing the teen’s chances at rehabilitation and turning instead to a crime free life.
Juvenile case goes public
The judge over the 17 year old boy’s aggravated assault case has decided to let the case go public. What this means:
- News reporters will be allowed to view and document the public hearing; and
- Witness testimonies will become public knowledge;
Since it is still in juvenile courts:
- The teen’s name will still be withheld in an attempt to protect the court proceedings; and
- No pictures will be taken of the juvenile defendant.
Pros and cons
When a juvenile case goes public, there is always the worry that the public proceedings will have a detrimental effect on the youth. On the contrary, having the case publicized could stop false accusations from surfacing from a public who are drawing their own conclusions while in the dark. Teens facing charges should consult with their attorney about the pros and cons of having a case go public, while knowing their legal counsel will do everything in their power to protect the teens still growing reputation and future.