If you know the number of children sentenced to life without parole in Michigan, you’ll be tempted to ask, “What is the age of criminal responsibility in Michigan?” We’re in the 21st century, and more children are languishing in Michigan prisons than in any other state.
Over 26 states have banned sentencing children to life without parole. Unfortunately, Michigan isn’t one of such states.
In this post, we shall discuss the age of criminal responsibility in the Great Lake State and other related topics. Keep reading to know more!
What Is The Age of Criminal Responsibility In Michigan?
Michigan used to be one of the five states where 17-year-olds were persecuted in the criminal justice system instead of the juvenile justice system, but that has changed.
The age of criminal responsibility in Michigan has now been raised to 18 or older. A package of bills the Republican legislature adopted was signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat.
A law increasing the age of criminal responsibility by a year is a step in the right direction. It was signed on October 31, 2019, but took effect from October 1, 2021. However, there is still much work to be done.
While the new age to face criminal justice court is 18, state persecutors still have broad discretion. This means a persecutor can recommend that a person under 17 be charged as an adult.
Which Court Handles Juvenile Criminal Offenses In Michigan?
The new law states that one must be 18 or older to face trial in a criminal court. Therefore, if a child under 18 is arrested with or without a warrant, the officer in charge must take the child to the family division of the circuit court. Furthermore, the circuit court has to be the county where the child committed the offense.
The officer has to file a juvenile delinquency petition after moving the child to the family division of the county’s circuit court.
Raising the age of persecution of an individual as an adult from 17 to 18 doesn’t mean persecutors no longer have the power to try a juvenile as an adult. They do, especially in certain serious crimes. Only in less severe crimes can people under 18 face the juvenile justice system without resistance from persecutors.
Michigan stakeholders deserve accolades for the “raise the age” movement they started that has led us to this point. Though the bill faced some bumps on the way, there wasn’t enough pressure to stop it.
Michigan legislatures listened to the “raise the age” campaigners urging the state to raise the age of criminal liability to 18 and acted. A couple of bills were raised to that effect and scaled through, even though the opposition tried to stop those bills.
What was the oppositions’ concern? They claimed raising the age of criminal liability from 17 and moving 17-year-olds into the juvenile system will put more burden on resource-strapped counties. Unfortunately, their reasons weren’t enough to stop the bill from scaling through.
Many states have complied by raising the age of criminal liability, so Michigan’s lawmakers needed to act.
When Does The Law Consider A Child An Adult In Michigan?
Certain crimes can prompt the judiciary to try a juvenile or someone under 17 as an adult. Here are some examples below.
- Armed robbery
- Drug trafficking
- Attempted murder
- Rape and sexual assault
- Domestic violence
- Home invasion
- Murder (first and second degree
- Possession of vast large quantities of drugs
- Assault with intent to maim, murder or rob
A 17-year-old or juvenile who commits violent crimes could be treated as an adult. We used the word “could be” because the prosecutor can only recommend that the court entertain such, but it’s left for the court to accept or reject the proposal.
Note also that the juvenile court may lose jurisdiction over your case if you’re at least 14 years old and commit the violent crimes mentioned above. The criminal justice system court will assume jurisdiction over the case when it involves such violent crimes.
Furthermore, if you’re under 14 and commit any of the offenses listed above, the prosecutor may ask the juvenile court to waive jurisdiction.
A Handy Tip: Juvenile cases don’t appear on minors’ permanent criminal records. You won’t find criminal history on their record even if they commit a crime.
Juveniles don’t have permanent criminal convictions on their records, which is commendable. It means they can secure educational opportunities and employment when they become adults without facing rejections.
The “raise-the-age” laws have had a massive positive impact across the country since more states adopted them. Studies have confirmed that they have helped to lower juvenile court recidivism drastically.
What Happens If The Court Discovers That A Juvenile Has Committed An Offense?
In Michigan’s juvenile justice system, the court can enter an order of disposition if a juvenile was discovered to have committed an offense.
The court has several ways of resolving such cases. Check them out below.
- The court may order that the juvenile be returned to their parents. The court will warn the parents and the juvenile and dismiss the petition.
- The court can decide that the juvenile be sent to suitable foster care rather than return to their biological parents.
- The court may order a team of probation. However, the probation could be in-home.
- The court may require you to start a juvenile training program at a boot camp.
- Order that the juvenile be put in or committed to an institution. It could be a private or public institution, whichever the court decides.
Can A Juvenile’s Parents Be Held Responsible For The Juvenile’s Crime?
Firstly, Michigan boasts parental responsibility laws, which impose liability on parents for their children’s delinquent behavior. The law involves parents in their children’s lives by holding them criminally or civilly liable for the actions of their children.
There are penalties for violating these laws. Check them out below.
- Criminal responsibility and jail time for parents discovered to have neglected their supervisory role over their kids
- Increase parents’ participation in juvenile proceedings.
- Financial responsibilities for court costs and restitution payments
- Parents’ participation in the counseling and treatment, including other diversion programs
- Financial responsibility for treatment, detention and supervisory costs
Are There Juvenile Jails In Michigan?
There is nothing like “juvenile jail” in Michigan. Instead, what the state has are “juvenile facilities.” Family court judges sentence young people who break the state’s laws to the juvenile facility.
So, the juvenile facilities aren’t called jails. However, they are locked-down facilities too. The state offers rehabilitation for young offenders. It’s a special type of treatment juveniles receive when they commit crimes.
Adults don’t get such treatment when they commit crimes. Punishment is the response to adult crimes.
What Is The Legal Age of Adulthood In Michigan?
Michigan’s age of majority or legal age of adulthood is 18. The age of majority refers to the legal age set by the state in which one is no longer regarded as a minor, is responsible for their decisions and choices, and has certain rights and requirements to follow as a legal adult.
It is called the “transfer of right.” And below are rights that transfer to you at the age of majority.
- The right to marry
- The right to vote
- The right to get a driver’s license or a credit card
- The right to sign a legal contract, home lease or finance a mortgage
- The right to enlist in the United States armed forces
- The right to open an individual bank account
- The right to give consent to medical treatment
- The right to make living arrangements
Can 18-Year-Olds Drink Alcohol In Michigan?
While the age of majority is 18, you cannot consume alcohol until you’re 21 years old in Michigan. Strict laws are in place regarding who can’t purchase or consume alcohol.
The law states that a person shall not sell or offer alcohol to an individual who has not reached age 21. Furthermore, an individual who hasn’t reached age 21 shall not possess alcohol for personal consumption.
The Federal Uniform Drinking Age Act of 1984 also puts the minimum drinking age as 21. Every state in the country follows this standard. So, regardless of your state, you cannot consume alcohol unless you’re 21.
Is It Legal To Drink Under 21 With Parents In Michigan?
Whether in Michigan or another state, drinking alcohol is a crime when the individual in question is under 21. So, whether you drink in your parent’s basement, backyard, dorm room, or campus, you’ll likely face legal consequences if you’re not 21.
Michigan has a “Minor in Possession law” prohibiting persons under 21 from buying, selling, possessing or drinking alcohol. Thus, your parents will land in trouble if you’re caught drinking alcohol, and worse if you did it in their presence.
So, it’s illegal for anyone under 21 to do the following:
- To possess or transport an unopened alcohol. It does not matter whether the alcohol bottle or can is in the driver’s or passenger’s area. The driver and passenger will be prosecuted if an open alcohol is found in the car.
- To be in possession of alcohol anywhere in the state and anytime, whether they have consumed part of it or not.
- To purchase alcohol using a fake I.D.
- To permit anyone to use their vehicle after they have been consuming alcohol.
You can get an MIP if you’re caught with alcohol while you’re under 21. So, don’t default for any reason. It’s not worth it.
An MIP or OWI arrest can impact your future negatively. You’ll feel the impact of both arrests when you try applying to join the military, get a job or secure admission. The military, schools and many employers take alcohol-related offenses seriously.
Here are the punishments if you’re under 21 and caught with alcohol in your body for the first time:
- Your driving license will be restricted for 30 days
- Four points will be added to your driving record
- You will pay a $125 driving license reinstatement fee
- Community service
- Fines up to $250
- You’ll be asked to pay a $500 Driver responsibility fee for two years
An under-21 caught with alcohol in their body for the second time in a roll within 7 years will face the following punishments:
- The license will be suspended for 90 days
- Payment of license reinstatement fee of $125
- Community service
- Payment of fines up to $500
- Payment of Driver Responsibility fee of $500 for two years.
So, what is the age of criminal responsibility in Michigan? The new law sets the age of criminal responsibility to 18 (no longer 17 years).
Persecutors can still recommend that a juvenile be tried in an adult criminal court for certain crimes. These include manslaughter, attempted murder, kidnapping, drug trafficking, rape, sexual assault.
The court can accept or reject the prosecutor’s request to try the juvenile in the criminal court. However, the case ends at the juvenile court if it involves less serious offenses.