If your child has been charged with a criminal offense, then you are likely wondering whether he or she may be tried as an adult. There is no single issue that the authorities will use to make this decision. However, your young one is likely to be tried as an adult if he or she:
Has Committed a Serious Offense
This is one of the essential factors when it comes to deciding whether to try a child as an adult or not. Therefore, isn't common for a child to be tried in an adult court if he or she has committed a misdemeanor such as shoplifting goods worth a few dollars. However, a felony (such as murder) case in a juvenile court can easily be transferred to the adult case.
Has a Criminal Record
The court may also consider the criminal record of the child when determining where to try him or her. If your kid has a long history of run-ins with the law, then he or she is likely to be tried as an adult. However, a child who is facing his or her first criminal charge will probably have his or her day in juvenile court. This makes sense given that convictions in adult courts tend to carry stricter sentences.
Is Relatively Old
The law views accused children as incapacitated defendants who may not be in full understanding of their criminal actions, as well as the legal consequences of such actions. However, the older the child is, the more he or she understands these issues well. Therefore, older children are more likely to be tried as adults than younger ones. According to FindLaw, minors above the age of 12 are increasingly being tried as adults, while those younger than that are tried in juvenile courts.
Hasn't Benefited From Past Juvenile Sentencing
Juvenile courts have broader sentencing options than adult courts. This is meant to help the child to see the error of his or her ways and reform. For example, the child may be sent to a secure juvenile facility (camp), made to live with another adult for some time, or even let off with a verbal warning.
However, some children may not change their ways even after such sentences. Therefore, if your child has served such sentences in the past, and he or she hasn't changed, then he or she may be sent to an adult court with potentially stricter punishments.
Note that the juvenile court judge will not use just one factor when deciding whether to try the child or send him or her to an adult court. For example, a child who has committed a serious offense, and has a long criminal history, is likely to be tried as an adult even if he or she is relatively young. Therefore, you need a criminal attorney with experience in such matters to help him or her.
To learn more, contact a company like Novak Lee Atty At Law.