When does California charge juveniles as adults?
Many juvenile crimes carry lighter sentences than adult offenses, but in some circumstances, minors may still face adult criminal charges – and the penalties associated with them. However, when possible, courts may decide to try to issue lighter sentences to try to rehabilitate juveniles, as opposed to punishing them like they do older offenders. Whether authorities charge juveniles with a juvenile offense or an adult one depends on certain circumstances.
Per the California Courts, a minor may still face an adult criminal charge if he or she is at least 14 years of age and facing one of a number of specific serious charges.
When minors may face adult charges
A juvenile may have to face a criminal charge in adult court if the charge is for rape, murder or attempted murder. He or she may also have to go through the adult criminal justice system if facing a charge of robbery involving a firearm or a different type of offense involving a firearm. Other crimes that may carry adult penalties for juveniles include setting fire to a building where people are present or escaping from a juvenile detention facility. Certain drug charges may also lead to prosecution in an adult court.
What parents may have to do when their children face charges
Parents may be on the hook financially if their minor children receive convictions for criminal charges. They may have to pay restitution to the victim if ordered to do so. They may also face additional legal responsibilities when their child faces a criminal charge.
Certain juvenile offenses may also count as “strikes” under California’s three-strikes law.