Under normal circumstances, a child (under the age of 18) in California should be tried in juvenile courts. However, there are special situations in which a young person can be judged as an adult in court. Let us look at some of the crimes or conditions that would have the court trying your child as an adult.
A minor, according to California Law
If your child is under 18 years, California law considers them a minor and should try him or her in juvenile court. The main purpose of juvenile courts is to rehabilitate a minor by giving him or her a chance to mend his or her ways so that he or she can become better people in society. Only the judge hears the cases, not jurors.
However, when your child commits a serious offense, the law will punish him or her for his or her crime. As such, they will be tried in adult court. Such offenses include murder, rape, violence that causes great harm and oral copulation.
California juvenile crimes
Juvenile crimes are unlawful acts that a person under the age of 18 commits. A crime can either be not doing something that the state or federal law requires you to do or conducting an act that the law prohibits.
A crime can be categorized as a misdemeanor or felony depending on its severity. If your child commits a less serious offense, like petty theft, public drunkenness or battery, in most cases, he or she will end up in juvenile court, where the judge will punish him or her with probation, fines and juvenile detention. However, if a child commits serious crimes, like sex offenses, murder, things to do with hard drugs, et cetera, they are most likely to be judged in adult court and sent to adult prison.
Things that increase your child’s chances of having an adult trial
When your child commits a serious crime, the prosecutor can file for a fitness hearing. In this hearing, the judge can decide to send your child to adult court depending on factors like:
- His or her criminal history
- The level of sophistication used when committing the crime
- Previous rehabilitation efforts
- The seriousness of the crime
You can appeal the court’s decision to send your child to adult court. However, you need to do that within 20 days from when he or she was arraigned in court for his or her crimes.