In wake of recent school threats, DA’s office explains how juveniles are prosecuted

Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 8:03 PM CST
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Calcasieu Parish, LA (KPLC) - More and more we are seeing students make threats at schools here in Southwest Louisiana. We found out how these children are actually prosecuted.

One of the advantages of being in juvenile court is that the offenders are protected from public scrutiny, meaning their criminal charges and court proceedings are hidden from the public.

“Juveniles are completely confidential by the Children’s Code, and the legislation that’s the DA’s office, the sheriffs department, the schools we cannot give out information pertaining to children,” said Lisa Ryder with the Calcasieu Parish District Attorney’s Office Juvenile Division said.

Ryder said juveniles can only be prosecuted between the ages of 10 and 18, and the mistakes they made in their past can’t be used against them in adulthood.

“When that child becomes an adult, it is as if they start over again, so whatever they do after the age of 18 is considered basically a first-time offender,” Ryder said.

That doesn’t mean their poor actions don’t have consequences.

“Depending on what the threat is or what the type of offense is, they can place the child in a detention center and then we would have a custody hearing before a court where the judge decided how to proceed from there,” Ryder said.

Ryder said there are also limitations for how long someone can be punished for crimes they committed as a juvenile.

“If a child commits a crime that would carry a 10 year sentence on the adult side and he or she is 16 years old when they are adjudicated or found guilty of that crime, regardless of what that sentence may be, the court can only impose a sentence up to their 21st birthday,” she said.

When it comes to school threats, the most common charge children face is terrorizing.