Anyone can commit a crime, both young and old. However, children’s crimes are usually treated differently from those of an adult. We say “usually” because there are some instances in which children could automatically waive their rights to have their case heard in juvenile court and instead be tried as though they were a full-grown adult. If your child has been arrested and charged with a crime, you might be wondering if their actions could subject them to this treatment.
There is some good news: this type of treatment is actually quite rare. Let’s take a look at when a child could be tried as an adult.
There are two key requirements that must be met in order for a child to be tried as an adult:
- They must be of a certain age.
- They must have committed a particularly egregious offense.
Offending children can be transferred to adult court automatically if they are at least 14 years old and are charged with a Class A or Class B felony. These include crimes like murder, sexual assault, robbery, and assault in the first degree, among others. For other felony offenses, the juvenile prosecutor has the discretion to request that the case be transferred to adult court if they can find probable cause to make the arrest and press the charges.
However, just because a case is sent to adult court doesn’t mean it will stay there. Generally, before the criminal proceedings will begin, you will have an opportunity to argue that the case should remain in juvenile court; it’s strongly advised you have a Connecticut criminal defense lawyer on your side to help with this hearing. In some instances, the request to move a case to adult court may have been accepted, but likewise, this doesn’t mean that’s where the case will be heard—you can still have it sent back to juvenile court by successfully pleading your case.
Misdemeanors are not transferred to adult courts and are instead heard at juvenile courts throughout the state. If your child has been charged with a misdemeanor, you can rest assured that they won’t be tried as an adult. However, this is not to say you still shouldn’t take their case extremely serious. Juvenile convictions have been shown to have life-long repercussions, so it’s still strongly advised you have an attorney on your side to ensure your child’s rights are fully protected.