Can a juvenile be charged with a felony?

juvenile with hands on head behind a fence

As a parent, one of the most frightening experiences can be discovering that your child is facing criminal charges. However, this terrifying experience can turn even more worrisome when you learn that there is a possibility of a juvenile case being waived up to adult court, meaning if your child’s crime is serious enough may be charged with a felony offense, resulting in long-lasting consequences. While the judicial system typically gives children the benefit of the doubt, if they deem their crime egregious or unusually callous, your child cannot be rehabilitated; they can be tried as adults. If your child is facing criminal charges, please don’t hesitate to contact a trusted Escambia County Criminal Defense Lawyer who can help protect your child from an uncertain future.

Can a juvenile be tried as an adult?

If your child has been arrested, you’re likely wondering how the court will handle their case. Fortunately, in most cases, juveniles face a somewhat different court system than the one designed for adults. While the adult judicial system’s primary concern is ensuring offenders are punished and the general public is safe from potential harm, the Family Court focuses more on rehabilitation. Although the court recognizes that minors facing criminal charges have the potential to reform their behavior through rehabilitation, the severity of their crime may result in a felony conviction.

A juvenile can be tried as an adult if their crime is severe enough. If the prosecution decides to move the case from juvenile to adult court, the minor could face a felony charge and experience long-term consequences that will negatively impact their future. The prosecution will generally consider the following before determining to waive a juvenile case up to adult court:

  • The age of the child
  • The child’s prior criminal history (if any)
  • The severity of the crime
  • Any other relevant factors

Juveniles are afforded certain rights that adults are typically not in adult court. However, if a juvenile is waived up to adult court, they will relinquish those rights and be treated the same way an adult would if facing the exact charges.

How old must a minor be to be tried in adult court?

For a child to be convicted of a felony crime in adult court, they must be at least 14 years of age or older and have been previously adjudicated delinquent for committing or attempting a crime considered a felony offense. Generally, a juvenile faces a felony conviction for murder, rape or sexual battery, grand theft auto, armed robbery, burglary, home-invasion robbery, and other violent crimes.

If your child is facing criminal charges, you need to enlist the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer from The Law Office of James M. Burns, who can fight to keep your child’s case from being knocked up to adult court.