Local News

October 20, 2013

Cops, courts still dealing with aftermath of car thefts

(Continued)

Easy targets

Incident reports from those instances and from the sheriff’s office show many of the break-ins were from easy targets. Often the vehicles were unlocked, sometimes even with keys in sight.

Conasauga Circuit Juvenile Court Administrator Robbie Walka said state law and rules of the court prohibit her from discussing the cases of the juveniles allegedly involved in the theft ring, but she did go into some detail on what consequences, in general, teens who commit crimes can face.

In Juvenile Court, those facing allegations technically aren’t ever “found guilty,” Walka said. Instead, they’re “adjudicated delinquent” if the court determines the youth committed a crime. For practical purposes, it may be the same, but the guilty youth won’t have to face a lifetime of consequences of, for example, having to circle “yes” on job applications that ask if they’ve ever been found guilty of a crime.

Walka said there are several factors that play into the consequences a juvenile might face for committing a theft, including whether they’ve been adjudicated delinquent before, how many thefts they committed and how much they took. At any rate, she said, the focus of Juvenile Court is rehabilitation rather than punishment. Consequences for committing crimes can include court-ordered counseling, making restitution, written apologies, community service, up to five years in a juvenile detention center and the parents losing custody of the child or other actions.

“A kid has to do something extremely serious” to face confinement, she said. Theft alone, Walka said, probably wouldn’t send a child to detention, although every case is different.

Because Parrish is an adult, the outcome of his case will be part of the public record. Whatever happens to the younger five teens, because of privacy restrictions written into state law, it’s unlikely members of the general public will ever know the outcome.

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