Why Children Can Be Tried As Adults In Court For Criminal Offenses

Posted on: 16 May 2016

If you are dealing with your child being accused of some sort of criminal offense, you may be wondering if they will face adult charges for the crime. While there is not a single reason that this may happen, it's good to be aware of all of the possibilities so that you are prepared for it.

They Are Accused of a Serious Crime

The nature of the crime is going to be the biggest factor to determine if children are tried as adults in court. For instance, a small shoplifting charge will be considered a misdemeanor. More serious charges, like drunk driving that leads to a death, could potentially see a child tried as an adult.

They Have An Existing Criminal Record

Another factor that will be considered is what the child's history with breaking the law in the past has been. If this is a child's first run-in with the police, chances are that they will be treated like a child by the courts. Those that have an extensive history with breaking the law could cause the case to be treated more seriously so that there is punishment that is impactful.

Sentences in juvenile court are fairly broad, with sentencing options that include being ordered to go to a juvenile facility, being forced to live in the home of a different adult, or even just given a warning. A strict punishment by facing adult charges may be what is deemed necessary if juvenile court sentencing is not deterring the child's criminal actions.

The Child Is Approaching Adult Age

The reason that a child is treated differently in court than an adult is because they may not fully understand the repercussions of their actions, including what those legal consequences could be. As a child becomes older, they should be able to understand what is right and what is wrong when it comes to the law.

There are regulations that dictate how a child of a certain age is tried in court. Those under 7 years old cannot go to juvenile court because their parents are liable for their actions. Being between 7 and 15 years old would make them eligible for being tried in juvenile court, and 12-18 puts them in a gray area where a prosecutor can argue for a children to be tried as adults for very serious crimes.

For more information, contact Charles P Dargo or a similar legal professional.