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When Are Juveniles Tried as Adults in California?

When Are Juveniles Tried as Adults in California?

If you are a parent whose son or daughter is facing criminal charges, the thought of your child being prosecuted as an adult probably strikes fear in your heart. However, there is a difference between the juvenile and adult court systems. Typically, minors are processed through the juvenile court system when they are under the age of 18. In contrast, anyone age 18 or over is prosecuted in the adult court system.

One of the key differences in the adult and juvenile court systems is how they each handle criminals: The juvenile court system is focused on rehabilitation, while the adult court system is more focused on punishment. Why is the treatment different? Because, society feels that children need to be treated differently than adults; therefore, the juvenile court system tries to help juvenile offenders overcome their personal challenges and become law-abiding citizens.

What is Juvenile Crime?

A “crime” refers to any act that is prohibited by law. Examples of common juvenile crimes include drug possession, shoplifting, vandalism, DUI, auto theft, burglary of a residence, assault, rape, and trespassing.

Crimes, whether they are committed by minors or adults are classified as infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies, with felonies being the most serious of all three and infractions being the least serious. Like adults, juveniles in California can be charged with infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. In some cases, a juvenile can be prosecuted as an adult, but even if they are, they will be treated differently than an adult.

“... a juvenile who is arrested for an ‘adult’ offense can be adjudicated in either juvenile court or adult court; if convicted, he or she can be incarcerated in either a county or state correctional facility or left in the community; and if incarcerated, he or she can be placed with either other juveniles or adults. In contrast, an adult charged with the same offense would be tried in an adult court; if convicted, he or she would be incarcerated by the state and would be housed with adults,” according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

In California, someone as young as 14 can be prosecuted in the adult court system and someone as young as 16 can be sentenced to prison. Usually, juveniles are tried as adults when they commit a serious violent felony or when they have a long criminal history and have not changed their criminal ways.

If your child is facing criminal charges in the East Bay, contact the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed today.

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