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Could young adults soon be charged and tried as juveniles?

Are university students adults? Or are they children? In the eyes of the law, college and university students are nearly all adults. With few exceptions, they’re 18 years old or older, and that means they share all the same legal rights and responsibilities as their parents and other adults.

However, a new bill in the Colorado House of Representatives could challenge that fact. As CBS Denver reports, lawmakers have put forth a new bill that would allow young adults to be charged for some crimes as juveniles.

What are the lawmakers thinking?

The law already provides some exceptions for how people are charged. Most people have heard about children whose crimes were so bad that they were tried as adults. It’s just highly unusual to think about the law working in the other direction-offering exceptions to adults who want to be charged and tried as children.

As the representative who introduced it noted, even though young men and women become legal adults at 18, their brains don’t fully mature until somewhere around age 25. In other words, the science seems to suggest that 25 is a more appropriate measure of biological adulthood.

The bill’s author said her goal was to give these young adults the benefits of juvenile court for crimes like theft or drug crimes.

How would it work?

As proposed, the bill would apply to people between 18 and 25 years of age. If they were charged with a non-violent felony, the bill would allow them to request a transfer to juvenile court. This means they would face charges under a less punitive system. Colorado’s juvenile code considers the victim’s well-being and that of the community, but it also considers the well-being of any juvenile found guilty. When possible, the goal is to help the criminal become a healthy member of society.

The law is always in motion

Though this bill is currently a political matter more than a legal one, it highlights the law’s many nuances and constant evolution. College students charged with criminal offenses rarely know all the options the law affords them. They may cheat themselves by agreeing to plea deals before they understand the consequences or all their different options.