When Are Juveniles Tried As Adults?

Has your son or daughter been charged with a juvenile crime in College Station, Bryan, or Brazos County? If so, you are likely worried about what the future holds. One of your most burning questions may revolve around the possibility of your youth being tried as an adult instead of as a juvenile. That is an important question due to the huge differences between juvenile court and adult court. The answer to the question in any juvenile matter is based on the individual circumstances of the case.

In Texas, as in other states, the juvenile justice system has been established to handle criminal matters for those under the age of 18. As such, it differs from the adult system in that it focuses on rehabilitating your child as opposed to punishing him or her. Since individuals under the age of 18 are not legal adults, they should not be subject to the adult legal system and punishment. However, in certain cases, a child can be transferred to adult court who is 14 years or older.

Circumstances That Can Lead to Adult Court Transfers

14 year-olds who are at risk for such a transfer become so because of the circumstances involving the type of crime and the child’s criminal history. Crimes that can lead to being tried in adult court are those of a very serious nature. These are generally crimes of violence, rape or sexual assault, and the like. Also, repeat offenses with an extended criminal history can add fuel to the fire for such a transfer.

More specifically, the type of crimes that can lead to a transfer to adult court include capital crimes, first-degree felonies, and aggravated felonies involving illegal drugs.

In cases where the juvenile is 15 years or older, the youth can be transferred to adult court when charged with the above crimes as well as lesser felonies – second-degree, third-degree, and state jail felonies. Generally, these transfers, called “judicial waivers,” occur when strong evidence exists that the youth committed the crime and that, because of the child’s violent history, punishment, as opposed to rehabilitation, is called for.

What Happens When a Youth Is Transferred to Adult Court?

Once a minor is transferred to the adult court system, he or she is subject to the same penalties that an adult would face, such as prison sentences, fines, and more. (However, juvenile offenders will not face the death penalty or a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.) Furthermore, once your child is transferred to adult court, he or she can never go back to juvenile court. Also, if convicted, he or she will be stuck with a permanent felony criminal record that can seriously jeopardize the future in terms of jobs, college, housing, educational aid, and more. This is not a good situation for a young person starting his or her life.

What Can You Do if Your Youth is Facing the Adult Court System?

The best action you can take when your child has been charged with a crime, whether it is being handled in the juvenile or adult system, is to hire a competent criminal defense lawyer. You will want to do everything possible to help your child beat the charges or to get the charges or penalties reduced. At The Law Office of Shane Phelps, P.C., you can work with a Texas Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist, an attorney trained and credentialed at the highest professional level in the state. Attorney Shane Phelps is also a former prosecutor and has been in practice since 1992.

Increase your child’s chances for a favorable outcome by contacting us online or at (979) 773-7028 for a free case review today.