This essay highlights the extensive complexities and problems involved in juvenile crimes by studying the case of Christine Fernandez. Christine Fernandez is a 12-year old boy who faced the first murder charge. Seeing the severity of the crime committed, the 12-year old was transferred to the adult court instead of the juvenile court. The juvenile criminal cases involve an extensive analysis of not only the psychological factor, but the historical background, parental upbringing and overall assessment of other aspects need to be taken into account. The cases of juvenile crimes carry a lot of complexities and additional external factors that need to be properly analyzed before resolving to a conclusion.
What happens when a broken child breaks?
The news headlines highlight a lot of cases of the existence of child homicides. Whereas, very little research has been conducted on the matter so far. Although case studies and research papers have been written highlighting the main causes for such behavior among children, however, no specific underlying cause has been agreed upon so far. However, the main reason for this lack of attention regarding the issue is the assumed innocent nature of a child as a defensive barrier for committing such a hideous crime. Moreover, the statistics also showed a small percentage of such cases which involved child homicides. Violence is a global problem and a major public health concern, especially in America. The recent increase in the cases of murders committed by children has shifted the attention of media and the public towards the subject.
The code of Florida defines a juvenile as a “person of age less than 18”. However, if a case is deemed serious enough, a juvenile can be charged as an adult for a committed crime. The state of Florida has the highest rate of transfer of child offenders from the juvenile system into the adult court (Morales, 2014). According to a recent survey conducted, an average of 2,420 youths were transferred to the adult court in every year between the period of 2008 and 2013. The prosecutor sends the juvenile under trail into the adult criminal court through the process called the “Direct File”. The decision of the prosecutor regarding the direct file is a final one and cannot be appealed and cannot be a subject of judicial review either. The state law allows the transfer of 14-year old and 15-years old in adult courts for 21 specific felonies. On the other hand, 16-year to 17-year olds can be charged in the adult courts for any felony as long as it is considered serious enough. The confinement period in a juvenile court system is inadequate when more dealing with a more serious crime. The reasons for sending a child to adult courts are never made public by the prosecutors.
The juvenile court system involves rehabilitation centers, specialized counseling, and general support. The adult court system is normally geared towards punishment and seeking justice for the victim rather than treating the offender. The studies, however, suggests that youth transfer from juvenile court into adult court not only harms the child but also puts the larger community at stake. When a child offender is treated in an adult court, they are more likely to recommit the crime as opposed to those who receive treatment in the juvenile court. The international law recognizes the distinctive nature of children and their behavior. The juvenile court system focuses on treating the root cause of a violent act committed instead of laying severe punishments for the offense.
Very little progress has been made in understanding and acknowledging the treatment of homicide cases by youth. Child emotional traumas and mental disorders are often overlooked in children as a serious and critical matter. Study regarding the proper evaluation of the causes of the matter and treatment procedures should be analyzed in order to control such cases. Sociocultural and historical factors are also identified as possible risks to the contribution of the occurrence of youth homicide cases (Wade C. Myers, 1992). Wade also argues that developmental delays in moral reasoning also accounts for a major contributing element in youthful murders. Among the many cases involved in such criteria, the case of Cristian Fernandez issued greater public health concern and media coverage.
The case of Cristian Fernandez is shocking episode of the homicide by youth. Christine Fernandez is a 12-year old child who was born as a result of a statutory rape of her mother Biannela Marie Susana at the age of 12. This case of youthful murder is an intricate and complex event which involves a difficult background history as well as psychological and physical abuse factors. Biannela’s eldest son become the youngest person to commit murder. Christian Fernandez had allegedly killed his younger 2-year old brother by beating him to death. Christine Fernandez was charged with first-degree murder of his 2-year old brother and charges of sexual abuse of his 5-year old younger brother. The charge of sexual abuse, however, was dropped due to the lack of proper physical evidence and witnesses.
On the evening of March 14th, 2011, Biannela Marie Susana left her 2-year old son David Galarraga under the supervision of her older son and his half-brother, Christine Fernandez. Although, Christine Fernandez had broken the little toddler’s leg during wrestling a few months back. While his mother was gone, the 12-year old displayed physical violence towards his 2-year old brother by shoving his head roughly in the bookshelf twice. Later, upon his mother’s arrival, Christine took her to see David who had become unconscious by that time. However, instead of rushing the baby to the hospital or calling 911, the mother changed the baby’s clothes and wiped the blood off his face. Despite the fact that the toddler was unresponsive and completely unconscious, Biannela waited four hours before taking David to the hospital hoping it was a concussion and he would wake up on his own. However, the severe injury to his head caused poor David to pass away two days later due to bleeding on his brain. The doctors said that if Biannela had taken David to the hospital earlier, maybe he would have survived. Biannela not only displayed ignorance in seeking medical attention for his son but also showed lack of careless behavior in leaving her son with Christine Fernandez whereas, she was fully aware that he was responsible for breaking David’s leg a few month ago. Before analyzing this case, it is mandatory to evaluate the main cause of children’s violent actions. Often the abusive behavior of parents plays an important part in understanding the behavior of children.
Christian was charged as an adult regarding the allegations and charges. Christian was faced with a possible life sentence jail time. However, the judge, Mallory Cooper, sentenced him a seven-year jail time and an additional eight years of probation as a part of the second charge. Additionally, the 12-year old was to continue his education and a regular psychological evaluation and treatment were also requested. Taking the intricate historical background and his frightening upbringing into account, it was severely debated if the punishment was too severe for a 12-year old with a life of emotional and physical trauma. The agreement of the case of Christine Fernandez attracted worldwide attention because a 12-year old was facing first-degree murder charges. The State Attorney Angela Corey commented on the matter that it was never the intention of the state to charge a 12-year old to a lifetime of prison. Rather, it was hoped that he will receive therapy and counseling and proper treatment. The best way to resolve that matter was to reach a middle ground where the offender was not only rehabilitated but also punished for his committed crimes.
Hank Coxe was defending the case of Fernandez by claiming that the act was unintentional. The history of abuse in Christine Fernandez’s life leads to his unresolved traumatic lifestyle. Christine Fernandez had displayed exceptionally good grades and had made friends in school during the short period of his life when he was terminated from his abusive family. Coxe argued that Christine Fernandez had balanced everything and was trying to move on. He was in no danger of causing future trouble. However, Corey opposed the case by claiming the murderous act as an act of will.
Christine Fernandez had lived a life of abandonment and abuse by his family. Christine and his sibling have always been a subject of abuse, pain and, violence. They have endured more pain than most people experience in their whole lifetime. Christine Fernandez had suffered from neglect from her mother and drug-addicted grandmother. Moreover, he had been repeatedly sexually abused by his cousins and was a victim of physical assault by his stepfather. The poisonous upbringing of the child in an abuse and drug littered environment imparted the same behavior in the 12-year old. The murder of the 2-year old toddler is a clear example of untreated neglect and abuse evolving into greater forms of violence. Maxfield stated that children subjected to violence are predisposed to violence later their lives. The greatest controversy exists when examining whether a person’s past traumas can be utilized as an excuse or an explanation for their criminal behavior (Monacelli, 2018). In order to prevent future criminal activities, it is necessary to understand the nature and stories of the offender to comprehend the criminal behavior of a person.
The story of Christine Fernandez involves pain and suffering from his early birth. Christine was born as a result of a statutory rape of her mother Biannela Marie Susana at the age of 12 by Jose Antonio Fernandez, 20 at that time. Jose was criminally charged, however, he avoided incarceration by vowing that he will provide for his son. He was, on the other hand, listed as a sex offender. Jose was around during the first two years of his son, however, it did not take him long to break his promise and disappear from Christine’s life completely. His mother was only thirteen at that time and was obviously incapable of providing for his son. The only other source of support for the mother and son was from a 34-year old grandmother who was a drug addict. When Biannela was fourteen and Christine was only two, they both were put in foster care after the little Christine Fernandez was found naked and dirty in front of a motel with the grandmother doing drugs inside. After Biannela starting dating, she married Luis Galarraga-Blanco who was physically abusive towards Christine Fernandez and his three other siblings. There had been many incidents of physical abuse faced by Christine Fernandez from his step-father Luis Galarraga-Blanco. Christine Fernandez was seen as a quiet and a rather withdrawn child. With all the abusive environment around his life, Christine was solely responsible for the household chores and tasks around his house. Christine Fernandez was examined by doctors who showed that the child had been a victim of long-term sexual abuse. Christine Fernandez was diagnosed as emotionally under-developed. Moreover, the doctors suggested that he was indeed a rather brilliant child, however, the emotional traumas and tough life caused him to act a vicious way towards his brother.
Christine Fernandez was charged as an adult and was the youngest inmate awaiting trial for first-degree murder. The physiological evaluation of the case of Christine Fernandez suggests that Fernandez poses a significant risk and may cause violence in the future. Christine Fernandez will get out of jail on his 19th birthday. This had been the most difficult case of juvenile murder yet in Florida. The state attorney stated that it was their primary concern to seek justice for David, protect our community from a person who committed a serious criminal activity and to properly rehabilitate and punish Christine Fernandez.
The blame for the 2-year old’s death can not only be blamed on a single 12-year old. It is obviously clear that the violent act was not immediate but was caused by a series of abuse and suffering caused by the very people who were supposed to provide protection and safety. The media had dubbed Biannela Marie Susana as being the most horrible mother in the world. Biannela Marie Susana’s story is another case of how long-term neglect and abuse can cause a negative effect on the community.
The case of Christine Fernandez involves an extensive analysis of the true nature of crimes and its relationship with a person’s state of mind and historical background. A detailed psychological evaluation indicates that Christine Fernandez had led a life of consistent pain and suffering. Moreover, it is evident that he was in desperate need of proper medical attention and counseling prior to David’s death as well. Investigation of the crime indicated that Christine Fernandez had displayed various signs of violence before as well. Constant exposure to violence and abuse can cause children to display explosive and rebellious behavior and may even lead them to depression (Schoettler, 2012). There are certain psychological factors that need to be considered in addressing juvenile criminal activities as compared to those of adults. Although children understand the concept of right from wrong, they can’t properly comprehend the consequences of their actions. They can understand that a certain act may put them in trouble but they may not understand the legal aspects and the financial consequences of an action. It is not mandatory to only analyze the psychological aspects, rather the juvenile offenders should, in fact, be accountable in some way or another. The case of Christine Fernandez involved severe and repetitive acts of violence that made Fernandez a high risk to further violence. Although, the abusive history and constant negligence in young Christine Fernandez’s life made this case a highly complex and intricate one. The cases of juvenile crimes carry a lot of complexities and additional external factors that need to be properly analyzed before resolving to a conclusion.