If you are a parent whose teenage son or daughter has gotten themselves into serious legal trouble, you may be wondering if and when juveniles are tried in adult court.
Usually, a juvenile will be under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court system, unless he or she commits a serious crime, has a lengthy track record of criminal behaviors, or the juvenile court has given up on the youth because they have failed to respond to rehabilitation.
When Juveniles are Subjected to a Waiver
The majority of states allow juvenile offenders to be subject to "waivers," which means the juvenile r can receive a waiver for adult court. In most states, youth have to be at least 16 years old to receive a waiver and be tried in adult court, but several states tallow youth as young as 13 to be tried as an adult.
Some states allow children of any age to be tried as an adult, especially if they committed a serious or depraved crime, such as murder.
Since gangs have been recruiting juveniles to commit serious crimes, juvenile offenders have been getting younger. In effect, the trend has been to lower the minimum age to be tried as an adult. In Ohio for example, a child can be tried as an adult if they commit a serious felony and are 14 or older.
A juvenile may be tried as an adult when:
- The juvenile committed a violent felony (e.g. murder).
- The juvenile has a long record of criminal behavior.
- The juvenile has not responded to rehabilitation.
- The juvenile is 16 or 17.
- The Department of Youth Services (DYS) has worked with the offender for a long time.
Some states have "automatic transfer laws" where the juvenile offender is automatically transferred to adult court when he or she: 1) committed a serious violent offense, and 2) they are a certain age (usually 16 years old).
If your son or daughter is facing criminal charges, reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney for aggressive representation!