When a juvenile is charged with a crime, it can be a frightening and confusing time for both the accused and their family. The legal system can be complex, and understanding when and why a juvenile may be charged as an adult is critical in navigating the process. In this blog, we will explore the factors that determine when juveniles are charged as adults and provide some guidance for those facing this challenging situation.
1. The Age of the Juvenile
One of the primary factors that determine whether a juvenile will be charged as an adult is their age. In Georgia, juveniles are individuals under the age of 17. However, in certain circumstances, a prosecutor may decide to charge a 13 to 16-year-old as an adult if they are accused of committing one of the "seven deadly sins" – murder, rape, armed robbery with a firearm, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, or voluntary manslaughter. This decision is made on a case-by-case basis and takes into account the severity of the crime and the juvenile's criminal history.
2. The Seriousness of the Offense
The nature of the crime committed plays a significant role in determining whether a juvenile will be charged as an adult. As mentioned earlier, Georgia law allows for juveniles to be charged as adults if they commit one of the "seven deadly sins." Additionally, if a juvenile has a history of criminal behavior or is considered a repeat offender, they may be more likely to be charged as an adult.
3. The Juvenile's Criminal History
A juvenile's criminal history is another important factor that can influence whether they are charged as an adult. If a juvenile has a history of criminal behavior, it may be more likely that they will be charged as an adult, particularly if they have previously been adjudicated delinquent for a serious offense or have been deemed a "designated felon" by the court. This is because the court may view the juvenile as a threat to public safety and believe that they require more serious consequences and supervision than the juvenile justice system can provide.
4. The Juvenile's Amenability to Treatment
One of the primary goals of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate and provide treatment to young offenders. If a juvenile is deemed to be amenable to treatment and likely to benefit from the services provided by the juvenile justice system, they may be less likely to be charged as an adult. However, if a juvenile is considered to be resistant to treatment or unlikely to benefit from the services provided, they may be more likely to be charged as an adult.
5. The Decision of the Prosecutor or Judge
Ultimately, the decision to charge a juvenile as an adult lies with the prosecutor or judge handling the case. They will take into account all of the factors mentioned above, as well as any other relevant information, to determine the most appropriate course of action for the juvenile and the community. This decision may be influenced by the specific circumstances of the case, the juvenile's background, and the availability of resources for treatment and rehabilitation.
Contact Miles Hansford & Tallant, LLC Today
If your child is facing juvenile charges and there is a possibility that they may be charged as an adult, it is crucial to seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Miles Hansford & Tallant, LLC, our team of skilled attorneys is well-versed in both juvenile and adult criminal law and can provide the guidance and representation needed to navigate this complex process. Contact us today to discuss your case and learn more about how we can help protect your child's future.