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New Mass. law puts 17-year-olds in juvenile court

Governor Deval Patrick has signed into law a bill placing 17-year-olds accused of crimes under the jurisdiction of the state’s juvenile courts. Currently in Massachusetts, 17-year-olds are treated as adults, regardless of the circumstances or severity of the offense. Thirty-nine other states and the federal government use 18 as the age of adult criminal jurisdiction. In cases of violent crimes, juvenile court judges would have the discretion to impose an adult sentence. The law also means that 17-year-olds will not receive an adult criminal record.

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