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Juvenile Criminal Defense: Can a Minor Ever be Tried as an Adult in California?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

San Jose criminal defense attorney, San Jose criminal defense, juvenile criminal offensesIn California, a minor—someone who is less than 18 years old—can be tried as an adult under certain circumstances. When this happens, the juvenile case is transferred from juvenile court to adult court, either automatically or upon a judge’s finding that the minor is not “fit” for the juvenile court system.

Crimes for Which Minors Must be Tried as Adults in California

According to California’s Welfare and Institutions Code section 602(b), any person who is alleged to have committed certain crimes when he or she was 14 years old or older must be tried as an adult under the general law in a court of criminal jurisdiction. These include murder, under some circumstances, rape, sodomy, and others.

Situations in Which Minors May be Tried as Adults in California

There are certain criminal offenses for which a minor (who was 14 years old or older at the time of the alleged offense) can be tried as an adult in California, provided that a judge finds the minor to be unfit for rehabilitation in the juvenile court system. In order to determine if a minor is fit for rehabilitation a judge will consider:

  • The degree of criminal sophistication exhibited by the minor;
  • Whether or not the minor can be rehabilitated before the juvenile court’s jurisdiction expires;
  • The minor’s previous history;
  • The level of success achieved by prior attempts to rehabilitate the minor; and
  • The circumstances and gravity of the alleged offense.

A complete list of the qualifying offenses for which a minor may be tried as an adult in California can be found under California’s Welfare and Institutions Code section 707(b).

Is it Better to be Tried as an Adult or as a Minor?

While each criminal case is unique, minors and their attorneys often do all they can to keep a case in juvenile court if at all possible. This is often because sentences tend to be less severe in juvenile court. Spending time in a juvenile correctional facility is often preferable to being imprisoned in an adult jail or prison, and it is generally easier to seal a juvenile record than it is to expunge an adult record.

However, some people believe that being tried as an adult can be advantageous for a minor in various ways. For example, sometimes the jury in an adult court will act sympathetically towards a minor based on their tender age. Minors who are charged with a crime in California should consult with their defense attorney about whether it would be in their best interest to be tried as an adult or a minor.

Reach Out to Us for Help Today

If you or your child live in Northern California and are in need of a highly experienced San Jose criminal defense attorney to represent you, contact Jachimowicz Law Group today. Our lawyers relentlessly defend our clients’ rights, have a long history of getting charges dismissed or reduced, and are very experienced trial attorneys. To discuss your legal options, contact our San Jose office to schedule a free consultation as soon as possible.

Source:

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=WIC&sectionNum=707 .

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