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When Are Juveniles Tried as Adults?

One of a parent’s worst-case scenarios is seeing his or her child accused of a crime. Not only does this create extensive stress for the family, but it also means your child’s future is at stake. A conviction of even a minor crime leaves a mark on someone’s record, meaning he or she will have a harder time finding a job or housing later in life. However, the juvenile court tends to be more forgiving of offenders than adult court, focusing on rehabilitation rather than punishment. When a juvenile is tried in adult court, this usually indicates a severe offense.

In the state of California, minors ages 14 to 17 can be tried as adults in a California Superior Court through several different procedures, including the following:

  • A prosecutor might file a petition for a “fitness” hearing in juvenile court. (If the court finds the minor “unfit” for rehabilitation, the minor will be referred for prosecution as an adult.)
  • A prosecutor might file a case directly in adult criminal court.
  • A defendant might face automatic trial as an adult if accused of certain pre-determined aggravated offenses for an eligible minor.

California Welfare & Institutions Code § 707(b) lists the crimes that qualify children 14 years and older for adult court if they are also found unfit to be rehabilitated in juvenile court. These offenses include crimes such as:

  • Arson causing serious injury
  • Murder
  • Robbery
  • Rape with force or violence
  • Sodomy by force or violence
  • Kidnapping
  • Attempted murder
  • Discharge of a firearm into an inhabited building
  • Carjacking
  • Aggravated mayhem
  • Torture
  • Voluntary manslaughter

A child who has been tried in adult court might be sentenced like any other adult, including getting life in prison without the possibility of parole. The penalty will depend on the severity of the crime. However, a minor cannot be sentenced to death under any circumstances.

If your child is facing a criminal charge, talk to one of our skilled Riverside juvenile crimes attorneys as soon as possible. Blumenthal & Moore has more than 100 years of combined legal experience to offer in support of your case. Let us see what we can do to protect the rights and future of your child.

Contact us at (951) 682-5110 or fill out our online form to schedule your no-cost consultation today!

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