Usually, there is a vast difference between the treatment of adults who have committed a crime and children who have committed a crime. The juvenile court is designed to try and rehabilitate children, believing they still can adapt and change, rather than the adult criminal court, which is intended more to punish offenders. However, depending on the circumstances, some juvenile cases get transferred to adult criminal court through a process called a waiver, when a judge waives the protections juvenile court provides.
A judge doesn’t usually waive a case without there being certain circumstances, such as a child committing a serious crime or if the child has been arrested for a crime before. Being tried in adult court does give juvenile offenders more constitutional protections, but the child under consideration may be given more severe sentences.
In many states, a child must be at least 16 years of age before they are eligible for a waiver to adult court, but in some other states, minors as young as 13 years of age could be tried in adult court. In Massachusetts, for example, individuals as young as 14 years of age when charged with murder are automatically tried as adults.
However, the law is still more on the side of juvenile offenders even if they have committed a serious crime. Courts in Massachusetts found it’s impossible to say any child is beyond hope or the possibility of rehabilitation. Likewise, it has been ruled mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles is unconstitutional. Experts on such justice say the courts recognize children are still in the process of development and should be treated differently from fully mature adults.
If your child is being charged with a juvenile crime, you should discuss the circumstances of the case with one of our skilled Worcester criminal defense attorneys. We can offer you experienced legal advice regarding how likely it is your child might be charged as an adult. Likewise, we can begin to mount a defense on his or her behalf to try and get as favorable an outcome as possible.
Contact us at (508) 645-4073 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case evaluation today.