In What Situations Could a Juvenile be Tried as an Adult?

In What Situations Could a Juvenile be Tried as an Adult?

The juvenile court system is different in every state. California has protected juveniles from harsh punishments through propositions and laws over the years. There really is no way for a juvenile under 16 years old in California to be tried in an adult court. However, there are ways that the juvenile courts work alongside the adult courts.

Exceptions to the Law

Although no minors under 16 can be tried in an adult court, there are some exceptions to the law. In the eyes of the courts, minors are children under the age of 18 so that includes 16 and 17-year-olds. Even in California, 16 and 17-year-olds can be held on trial in an adult court. There are several conditions for this to take place.

Major Conditions

  • The first condition is that the child must have been 16 or 17 at the time that the charged crime was committed. If the individual was 12 or 13 years old at the time of the crime, but being charged when they are 16, they must remain in juvenile court to be tried.
  • The second condition is that the charges must be felony offenses. The most serious felonies for juveniles can be found in section (b) of Welfare and Institutions Code 707. 
  • The third condition is for the prosecutor to request the transfer of the case to an adult court. Prosecutors will know when the crime warrants a transfer. This is when it is a good plan to have an attorney like the professionals at H Law Group. These trained lawyers will use the law to your advantage in an attempt to protect the rights of your juvenile. Be sure to have them in your court if faced with juvenile crime charges.
  • The fourth condition is if the juvenile has repeating, violent offenses on his record. This is when the justice system sees their rehabilitation attempts as failing and the need for a more strict punishment is necessary.

Juvenile Felonies That Warrant a Transfer

Most of the minors that face the law in the court systems stay in the juvenile court and are tried as minors. However, in all situations, there are extreme cases. Juvenile crime is no exception. If a juvenile commits a violent, gruesome crime they more than likely will be transferred to an adult court if they are 16 or 17. 

But what’s considered violent in the eyes of the courts? For this, we turn to section (b) of Welfare and Institutions Code 707. Under this code, several crimes classify as violent and gruesome and will always be considered felonies against the defendant. Here are a few of the listed crimes under code 707(b):

  • Murder or attempted murder
  • Arson that caused injury to another individual
  • Forcible sexual assault: rape, sodomy, lewd act to a child under 14
  • Kidnapping
  • Assault with a firearm or other harmful device
  • Crimes against elderly or disabled individuals
  • Use of firearms or weapons
  • Torture
  • Use of explosives with intent to kill
  • Voluntary manslaughter

These are just a few of the enumerated crimes listed in section 707(b). These felonies and other crimes are so serious that the court systems can’t treat them lightly and therefore, they are usually transferred to the adult court for trial and sentencing.

Ways to Avoid the Transfer

If you have hired a great attorney from H Law Group, they will advise you to have the juvenile evaluated by a psychologist or psychiatrist. This is one way to keep the charges from going to an adult court. If the child is found to have certain psychological issues, the courts will retain them in the juvenile courts to be tried on a lesser scale. Some psychological diagnoses that might meet the qualifications include: lack of understanding of consequences of criminal behavior, mental health is unstable, childhood trauma affected the individual’s criminal actions or lack of maturity or intellectual capacity.

If the minor is found to have any of these diagnoses, the court will most likely create a probation program centered around the diagnosis. This is California’s way of attempting rehabilitation instead of retaliation on juvenile delinquents.

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