In the legal world, children and juveniles don’t often receive the same type or level of punishment for the same crimes that are committed by someone 18 or over. Only the most severe crimes on a case-by-case basis usually result in a juvenile being charged with a felony. A judge decides in certain circumstances whether a young individual should be tried as a juvenile or as an adult. If your child is facing felony charges, it is important to know the process and what to expect.
Ages of Juveniles
Whether a young individual will be tried as a juvenile or as an adult often depends on age. As a general rule of thumb, a juvenile must have turned 17 to be considered for adult level court. The only time this age requirement is reconsidered is when a juvenile has committed some of the most severe of felonies. This includes crimes like rape, child molestation, murder, or serious assault with a deadly weapon. A minor between 15 and 17 with any felony charge can be considered for adult court. Transferal will depend on the crime, frequency of the crime, etc. After that the court may determine next if the teen qualifies as a youthful offender.
For a juvenile to qualify as a youthful offender, they must have committed a crime that is not considered too severe. There are felonies that are not considered to be as serious. As long as a crime was not a Class A felony or worse, a juvenile can often be categorized as a youthful offender instead of an adult. These juveniles are more qualified for additional rehabilitation and options to get sentencing reduced and penalties lowered. With this status, juveniles get greater confidentiality for their cases and the option to have the crimes completely removed from their record by their 21st birthday.
Transfer Process to Adult Court
Sometimes, a child under the age of 18 will still be charged as an adult depending on the severity of the crime, if the crime has been consistently repeated in the past, and an overall assessment of the juvenile. Sometimes a juvenile will opt for adult court when they believe they are innocent so that they have a right to a jury. Often, juries are also more understanding when it comes to minors as well. As for transfers the juvenile does not opt for, there are two types: Discretionary and Automatic Transfers.
This type of juvenile transfer to adult court is specifically for teens between the age of 15 and 17 who have committed a Class C, D, or E level felony. These classes can include crimes such as forgery, drunk driving, robbery, child abandonment, possession of certain drugs or stolen property, etc. These can also sometimes involve certain Class B felonies such as manslaughter, corrections officer assault, kidnapping, and sexual assault. Whether the juvenile will be tried as an adult or not depends on the judge and the situation involving to crime and the juveniles previous criminal record.
Automatic transfers involve a legal requirement to move a juvenile ages 15 to 17 to adult court. This usually occurs when certain Class B and higher felonies are committed. When a crime is severe enough, youthfulness is not always going to protect someone from adult-level consequences. Sometimes an attorney can convince a judge to move it back to juvenile court under certain Class B circumstances such as first-degree sexual assault for certain aged victims or the less severe of the Class B felonies.
Contact an Experienced Westmont Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Felony Charges in New Jersey
Were you arrested or charged with felony level charge as a juvenile in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at The Law Office of Jill R. Cohen have successfully represented juvenile and other clients charged with felony level charges in Pennsauken, Voorhees, Lindenwold, Haddon Township, and throughout New Jersey. Call (856) 242-7177 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 210 Haddon Avenue, Westmont, NJ 08108.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.