(951) 667-5293

Orange County:

(714) 758-5293

who you hire can make all the difference

Mr. Donath has spent his entire career defending people and standing up for the rights of the accused.

request a free consultation
  • former deputy public defender

    As a former Deputy Public Defender in Riverside County, Mr. Donath has always been on the defense side of the law. 

  • award winning certified criminal law specialist

    Top 100 Trial Attorneys in California 2012-2014, 2008 Trial Attorney of the Year by the Riverside County Public Defender's Office, and dozens of other awards and accolades.

  • a true passion for defending the accused

    Your lawyer should have a passion for defense, not just a passion for money. Reputation, vigor, and determination go a long way in this business.

Request Consultation

request a free confidential consultation

*all fields are required
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

When Can a Juvenile Be Tried in Adult Court?

Posted in Uncategorized on June 24, 2021

In most situations, crimes committed by a person under the age of 18 will be heard in juvenile court in California. However, there are times when juveniles will get transferred to the adult criminal court through a process called a “waiver.”

A waiver occurs when a judge decides to waive the protections that a juvenile will have in the juvenile court system. In most cases, waivers only occur when a serious crime has been committed or when a minor has been in trouble in the past. Here, we want to discuss the factors that could lead to a juvenile case waiver to adult criminal court, which cases are not allowed to be tried in adult court, as well as life without parole sentence is for children. If you require experienced representation for your underage child, contact our Riverside juvenile crime defense attorney.

Factors that could lead for a juvenile case to be transferred to adult court/types of crimes

The first thing that we need to point out is that any minor under the age of 16 will not be tried in adult court. However, teenagers can be tried as adults in Criminal Court if they are 16 or 17 years of age when the alleged crime has been committed, and they have been charged with one or more felony offenses. If these two requirements have been met, the prosecutor can ask the courts to transfer the case to adult criminal court.

Cases that aren’t allowed to be tried in adult court

There used to be an exception to the age requirement when it came to children aged 14 or 15 years old (any person 13 and under could not be charged as adults in California). If a 14 or 15-year-old committed any of the following crimes and were not apprehended before they turn 21, they could have been tried as adults:

  • Murder (intentionally killing someone)
  • Robbery (using force to steal from someone)
  • Forcible sexual assault (rape)
  • Kidnapping (forcibly moving someone against their will)
  • Assault with a firearm (shooting someone)
  • …and other crimes listed in subdivision (b) of Welfare and Institutions Code section 707

However, in 2019, a California appellate court ruled that juveniles under the age of 16 could not be tried as adults or face life sentences. California legislators quickly passed a law codifying this ruling. Prosecutors vehemently challenged this new law and appealed to the California Supreme Court. However, the California Supreme Court recently upheld the 2019 law. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the requirement that youths under 16 be tried in juvenile court.

When the appeals court first made a ruling in this case, Justice Alison Tucher stated that it “sought to promote juvenile rehabilitation by channeling more minors into the juvenile system.”

Life without parole sentences for children

The same law that did away with trying 14 and 15-year-olds as adults also did away with the ability to impose life sentences without parole on children of that age. When the law was passed, California joined other states across the country that had already abolished life without parole for children. Under the law, a “juvenile life” sentence means that offenders can only be held in custody until they reach the age of 25.