There are certain crimes, such as kidnapping, carjacking, sex offenses and possession of a firearm, that could warrant a minor being automatically charged as an adult, thereby skipping the Juvenile Court altogether. In these cases, the juvenile’s lawyer can request a transfer hearing to send the juvenile back to Juvenile Court. There are also certain cases, in Juvenile Court, that the prosecutor believes should be sent up to adult court and the case should be treated as if an adult committed the crime. As you can imagine, the crimes must be serious but this can also occur if the crime was committed close to the juvenile’s 18th birthday. A waiver hearing would have to be requested by the prosecutor to waive the child up to adult court.
In determining whether a juvenile should be treated as an adult there are certain factors the Court considers, such as the juvenile’s age, mental and physical condition, agreement to future treatment options, the nature of the crime committed, and the public’s safety. Each case is unique and there is no blanket rule that applies to all cases. I have seen situations where a 14-year-old charged with murder remained in Juvenile Court and a 17-year-old got waived to adult court for robbery.
There is a rule that states, “Once an adult, always an adult.” This means that juveniles who have previously been tried as an adult will always automatically be tried in adult court for all subsequent charges.
It is heartbreaking for any parent to see their child charged with a crime and even more difficult to face the possibility of a child being taken away from the home. Educating your children on wise decision-making and the consequences of their actions will hopefully keep them from making poor choices that could harm others and land them in the juvenile criminal system.