When Juveniles in California are Tried in Adult Court

Minors who commit criminal offenses in California must typically face the juvenile delinquency court system, which is designed to rehabilitate as opposed to punish minor offenders.

However, if a minor commits an especially serious offense, facing the adult criminal court system is a possibility. According to state law, prosecutors can determine if a minor at least 14 years of age may be tried as an adult for specific crimes.

The following are the types of crimes where a minor can be tried as an adult:

  • Murder or attempted murder
  • Rape
  • Forcible sexual penetration or sex with the assistance of another
  • Forcible oral copulation or sodomy
  • Lewd or lascivious act on a child under 14 with force or threat
  • Carjacking
  • Arson
  • Torture
  • Robbery
  • Assault with a firearm
  • Assault which results in great bodily injury
  • Kidnapping for ransom or with bodily harm
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Drive-by-shooting

If a minor commits one of the crimes mentioned above, a prosecutor can file charges against him/her directly in criminal court. On the other hand, a prosecutor can also request a fitness hearing where a judge decides whether or not the minor is fit to stand trial as an adult.

If a minor is tried as an adult in criminal court, he/she faces penalties like any other adult upon conviction. For example, if a 16-year-old is convicted of first-degree murder, he/she can be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

If you or someone you love has been accused of a crime, our Murrieta criminal defense attorneys at Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich can provide experienced and skilled legal representation. We can assess the minor’s case, gather evidence, and develop a strong defense strategy to protect his /her rights and future. Our goal is to get the best results possible, by either getting the entire case dismissed or the penalties reduced.

Contact us and schedule a free consultation to speak with our knowledgeable legal team today.


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