|Pictured above: Michael Sykes. Source: Los Angeles Times.|
Six male juveniles and a 19-year-old man, Michael Sykes, have been arrested in connection with a gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in a park bathroom in Moreno Valley on March 10, 2011. The juveniles were booked in Riverside County Juvenile Hall. Sykes was the last suspect arrested. Also arrested was a teenage girl that was believed to have lured the alleged victim into the park bathroom before the rape occured. Police believe that the rape was gang related.
Juveniles who are charged with crimes do not go through the regular court system. Instead, they go through the juvenile court system. The goal of the juvenile court system is to rehabilitate the minor. The goal of the adult or regular court system is to punish the offender. If a juvenile is almost 18 and commits a serious felony, they can be charged as an adult and would therefore go through the regular court system and then be sentenced to an adult jail or prison.
In this case, the rape of an 11-year-old is considered a serious felony, therefore these juveniles may be charged as adults. Being charged as an adult means that the suspects face time in prison time instead of juvenile hall and they also face longer sentences. A conviction as a juvenile may also stay on your record and affect your ability to receive a driver’s license or a job. Therefore, it is imperative to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away if you are charged with a juvenile crime, rape or gang charges. An experienced attorney may be able to reduce your charges or sentence, or get the charges against you dismissed.