A Childish Prank Has Teen in Adult Court Spotlight

By: Gerri L. Elder

It is a fact that children and teenagers do not have the capacity for reasoning that adults have. There is good reason that juvenile courts were established, and this is one of those very reasons. Yet in many cases we see that teenagers are tried as adults anyway, without the blanket of rehabilitation services and anonymity that the juvenile court provides, and with good need for a criminal defense attorney.

The Quad-City Times reports that a teen in Illinois has made an error in judgment. That’s not big news, kids pull ridiculous stunts all the time. This child is now charged with two felonies though, and will face the punishment of an adult criminal court for a bold prank that went all wrong.

An off-duty deputy and his wife were the unfortunate targets of the teen’s elaborate joke. On January 20 the deputy and his wife were in their car shortly after midnight when they saw flashing lights in the rearview mirror. To someone who was not in law enforcement, it may have seemed that they were being pulled over by an undercover police vehicle. However, the deputy knew that it was not an undercover officer and so he dialed 911 from his car and did not pull over for the flashing lights.

An officer from the Milan Police Department responded to the call and pulled over the car that was attempting to pull over the deputy and his wife. Behind the wheel of the private car equipped with flashing lights was a 17 year old boy whose name won’t be revealed for privacy reasons.

In the boy’s vehicle were strobes and the red and blue lights that usually indicate an emergency or police vehicle, which are illegal to install in a private vehicle.

The boy is now in pretty hot water. Having the lights in his vehicle netted him a felony charge and he faces a second felony charge for impersonating a police officer. When he was arrested, the boy reportedly made the comment that it was a stupid idea. That point can’t be argued, however he is a teenager. Teenagers, from time to time, absolutely do have stupid ideas. And granted, anyone can have a stupid idea, but the difference is that teens tend to also be impulsive and without the capacity to think things fully through, tend to make bad decisions sometimes. The boy certainly made some poor choices.

When he was arrested, the boy was wearing street clothes and had no weapons. He did not have a fake badge, or anything besides the flashing lights that would lead anyone to believe that he was actually a police officer. However, that would make little difference if he had actually had success in pulling someone over. He could have actually terrified people, or even put his own life in danger by randomly pulling vehicles over. No one knows what his intentions were with this prank, but with no weapons or badge it is unlikely that his impersonation of a police officer would have fooled many people.

Regardless of his intentions, the boy is now charged with two felony crimes. In Illinois, because he is 17, he is considered an adult and will be tried in adult court. This childish and impulsive prank will now follow the boy throughout his life on his criminal history. He will not be afforded any benefit of the doubt, nor will an adult criminal court attempt to reform him. Although he has no prior criminal record, he will be punished as an adult.