Will My Child Be Tried in Juvenile or Adult Court?

When a juvenile is arrested for a crime, a judge can decide whether they will be tried as an adult or a minor. This is typically accomplished with what is known as a “judicial waiver.” Often, a prosecutor will ask the juvenile court judge to hold a hearing to determine if their exclusive jurisdiction can be waived.

Some states leave this decision solely to the judge, while others make the judicial waiver mandatory for egregious crimes. Factors used to determine if a judicial waiver should be applied to a juvenile’s case include:

  1. The nature and circumstances of the crime
  2. Whether the offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, or premeditated manner
  3. The merit of the charges the juvenile is facing
  4. The sophistication, maturity, and past history of the minor
  5. The need to protect the public
  6. The likelihood that the juvenile can be treated and rehabilitated

Some states even authorize prosecutors to decide on a juvenile’s sentencing status. In these states, juvenile and adult criminal courts have the concurrent authority to hear certain cases involving juveniles. Prosecutors can unilaterally decide where to file charges against a minor without their decision being subjected to review.

State legislators can also decide the outcome of how a juvenile will be tried. Statutory exclusions allow lawmakers to grant criminal courts control over cases involving violent crimes and minors who are repeat offenders. In this situation, a lawmaker pretty much determines before trial that a juvenile will be treated as an adult. This takes the decision making power away from the courts and prosecutors.

Is your child facing possible jail time? Want to know if they will be tried as a juvenile or adult? Our legal team can help you. At Patton | Pittman Attorneys, we understand that a criminal conviction can significantly impact your life and reputation. Let us fight for your rights.

Call (931) 361-4477 to speak with our Clarksville team of criminal defense lawyers today.

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