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Judge weighs transfer of case of Georgia teen to juvenile court

A Georgia judge is weighing a request to remove the criminal case involving a 16-year-old from Superior Court and move it to Juvenile Court.

In February, the teenager was acquitted in Superior Court of a felony charge that could have sent him to prison for life. Instead, he was convicted of two battery counts, which carry a maximum prison term of five years each.

His attorney, however, is requesting the teenager be treated as a juvenile, contending he'd receive greater opportunities for rehabilitation. Without that change of court jurisdiction, the teenager would be treated as an adult and lose some of the services offered to youthful offenders.

The assistant district attorney argued to the Superior Court judge that since that court had heard all the testimony and seen the evidence, that judge would be in the best position to decide on sentencing.

The teen's attorney, however, argued that the Department of Juvenile Justice is better equipped to "provide specialized treatment for children" in cases such as his instead of putting him behind bars.

"They'll make sure to get him through school, that kind of stuff. They'll stress things that are important for a kid," the attorney told the Gainesville Times.

The judge did not set a timetable for a decision.

This young man's future hinges on what this judge decides, and since the juvenile system offers support and rehabilitation opportunities tailored for his age, it makes sense for the case to be transferred. Attorneys who know how to advocate for young people with judges, social workers and others have successfully made such arguments in the past, and there is no reason this case should be any different.

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