Columbus’s Rising Murder Rate Taking a Toll on City Teenagers

Since the beginning of the year, Columbus has had 62 homicides, compared to 54 homicides for the same period last year. Ten of the homicides were juveniles. So far, seven juveniles have been arrested and charged with murder in 2020.

According to Columbus Police Sgt. Joe Albert, there has been an increase in the rate of serious crimes related to juveniles in Columbus.

The most recent teenage shootings occurred over the July 4 weekend. Three teenagers were shot and wounded in a drive-by shooting in Linden.

Less than 24 hours later, a 17-year-old boy died from gunshot wounds. The shooter was an 18-year-old boy. The boys had gotten into a confrontation on West Rich Street.

The Columbus Police Department is starting the Safe Streets program again in areas where violence is increasing. The problem began in 2017 to reduce violent crimes by engaging residents in neighborhood safety. Officers increase foot patrols and bicycle patrols through neighborhoods.

The city was also featured in the Combatting Youth Violence in American Cities publication by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2016. Thirty cities from around the country shared how they are dealing with youth violence in their city.

Mayor Michael Coleman discussed the Applications for Purpose, Pride, and Success (APPS) program aimed at juveniles and young adults between the ages of 14 and 21. The problem was designed to reduce youth homicides and gang-involved shootings in four Columbus neighborhoods – Linden, Barack, Beatty, and Glenwood.

Columbus officials and law enforcement agencies continue to work within the community to combat crimes committed by juveniles. Unfortunately, the current economic and social climate that has been a factor in the rise of crime in many cities may be a factor in the rise in youth crimes in Columbus.

Juvenile Crimes in Columbus, OH

Homicide is not the only crime being committed by young offenders in Columbus. Law enforcement agencies arrest juveniles for a variety of crimes including:

Minors do not receive a “pass” when they commit a crime. In some cases, the court can charge a juvenile as an adult. Juveniles charged as adults face the same punishments as an adult for a conviction.

Some crimes carry mandatory grounds for transferring the case to adult court, such as murder, aggravated arson, manslaughter, aggravated robbery, rape, and some other offenses. Judges also have the authority to make discretionary transfers to adult court for minors age 14 years and older who are charged with a felony.

Even minor crimes that might result in fines with no jail time result in a criminal record that can follow a young person forever. Criminal records could prevent a teenager from receiving scholarships or attending certain schools. It could prevent a young adult from getting a job or pursuing a career that requires a professional license.

Sadly, teenagers do not think about the consequences of a criminal act. They often assume since they are under 18 years of age, they cannot be thrown in jail or face serious penalties. Rarely do they think about the future consequences of their actions.

What Should I Do If My Teenager is Arrested?

It can be difficult but try not to panic. You cannot think clearly when you panic. Your child has been arrested, not convicted.

The state must prove all legal requirements for the crime to get a conviction. Do not give the state additional evidence to use against your child in court. Do not allow your child to make a statement or answer questions without an attorney.

Contact a defense lawyer as soon as possible. A defense attorney can help arrange bail, if possible, for your teenager, so that you can bring your child home. Your child’s lawyer investigates the arrest and the criminal charges to determine whether your child’s legal rights were violated and develop potential defense strategies.

Depending on the circumstances, the criminal charges, and your child’s background, your child may qualify for the Teen Court Program. Teens serve as jurors and attorneys. The advantage of the Teen Court is that the sentences are aimed at rehabilitation, and the sentences do not result in a guilty verdict.

If your teenager is facing a serious criminal charge, a lawyer can fight to keep the case in juvenile court. The penalties in juvenile court are generally less severe compared to the sentences handed out in adult court. Depending on the facts of the case, a lawyer may help your teenager negotiate a plea agreement that avoids the harshest penalties, such as jail time.

The key is to treat a teenage crime as seriously as you would an adult crime. Do not assume that your child will receive a “slap on the wrist” and be released. Get legal advice immediately to protect your child if he or she is arrested.


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