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How California courts try juveniles who have committed homicide

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2023 | Juvenile Crimes |

Ending someone’s life is a serious and painful ordeal that has long-term effects for all involved, especially the loved ones of the deceased. When a juvenile commits such a crime in California, in most instances, the law may treat them as minors; however, there are also situations where the judge can punish them as an adult.

A juvenile, according to California laws

Juveniles in California are individuals between the ages of 12 and 17 years old. This age group is also referred to as “minors” and holds certain rights established by the state, such as the right to consent, the right to privacy and protection against double jeopardy.

In most cases, when a juvenile commits a homicide in California, the court will charge them with murder or manslaughter. The prosecution can also petition to have their case transferred to adult court to try them as grown, mature offenders.

Factors considered by courts when trying a juvenile for homicide

When determining whether or not to transfer a juvenile’s case from juvenile court to adult court for homicide charges, the judge takes several factors into consideration, including the defendant’s age at the time of the crime, their prior criminal record and any special circumstances that contributed to the commission of the crime like mental capacity, if they are a victim of violence or abuse and others. Most importantly, the court will also consider if the defendant was mature enough to understand and appreciate their actions at the time of the crime.

Punishments for juveniles convicted of homicide

If the court finds the juvenile guilty of the crime, they can face punishments such as probation, custody or commitment to a rehabilitation center. If transferred to adult court and found guilty, they could face potentially harsher punishments like life in prison without parole or even death by lethal injection.

Convicting a minor for murder has lasting ramifications that extend further than just legal repercussions. However, every minor has a right to a fair trial in California to ensure justice prevails in the end.