As parents, we can do our best raising our children to do what's right but we can't take away their "freedom of choice." Whether a teenager is compelled to commit crimes because of peer pressure, substance abuse, or rebellion, if they don't change their behaviors, society will do it for them.
While the majority of juvenile delinquents are under the jurisdiction of the juvenile courts, this is not always the case. Under certain circumstances a juvenile will be tried in adult criminal court. This means the youth is subject to the same criminal sentencing and penalties as an adult, including life in prison.
What is a waiver?
In many jurisdictions, a juvenile case will be transferred to adult criminal court by means of a "waiver." With a waiver, the judge is "waiving" the protections afforded by the juvenile court system. Usually, waivers apply to youth who have committed serious crimes, such as rape or murder, or youth who have a history of getting into trouble.
At what age can a juvenile be eligible for a waiver? In most states, the minimum age is 16 to be tried as an adult, however, there are several states that set the minimum age to 13. One of the main reasons for setting the age to 13 is gang-related crime.
Recently, gangs have been recruiting minors to commit violent crimes. With a lower age limit, youth involved in gangs are discouraged from committing violent crimes because they can be tried as adults.
Generally, juveniles may be tried as an adult for the following reasons:
- The juvenile committed a serious violent crime
- The juvenile is 16 or 17
- The juvenile has not responded to rehabilitation
- The juvenile has a long history of getting in trouble
Usually, a waiver procedure begins when the prosecutor asks to have the juvenile's case transferred to adult criminal court, however, the judge has the power to initiate transfer proceedings as well. In some states, the law requires that juveniles be tried as adults when they commit certain crimes, such as manslaughter or murder; these are known as "automatic transfer laws."
If your son or daughter is at risk of being tried in adult criminal court, they need a criminal defense attorney now more than ever. Please, scroll through our directory to find a lawyer near you.