When your child is facing criminal charges, you may have a lot of questions and concerns. One common question is whether your child will have his or her case heard in adult court or juvenile court. The short answer is that it depends.
Depending on the specific facts of your child’s case and the alleged offense he or she is charged with, the case may be filed either directly in adult court (“direct filing”) or the juvenile court will determine whether your child’s case is best “fit” for juvenile court (“fitness hearing”). Each of these scenarios is discussed below.
Automatic Direct Filings In Adult Court
If at the time the offense was allegedly committed your child was at least 14 years old, the prosecutor must file the offenses listed below in adult court:
Murder, if your child personally committed the act and of the special circumstances as listed under Penal Code 190.2 exist.
Certain types of sexual offenses involving your child carrying out the offense and where the special circumstances listed in Penal Code Section 667.61(d) exist.
Juvenile Offenses That May be Qualify For Direct Filings In Adult Court
In certain cases, the prosecutor has the discretion to determine whether to directly file your child’s case in adult court. These cases are discussed below:
- Your 16-year-old child allegedly committed a crime listed in Welfare and Institutions Code 707(b), including ALL first or second-degree robbery offenses.
- Your child allegedly committed any crime that is punishable by death or life in prison.
- Your child allegedly committed a crime in which he or she used a firearm.
If at the time of the offense your child was at least 14 years old and is charged with any of the following crimes, the prosecutor will also have discretion as to whether file the case directly in adult court:
- The offense is punishable by life in prison or by death if committed by an adult.
- Your child used a firearm in the commission of a felony.
- Your child personally used a firearm in the commission of felony.
- Your child committed a crime listed in 707(b) with one or more of the following circumstances:
- Your child was previously made a Ward of the Court under Welfare and Institutions Code 602.
- The crime is “gang related.”
- The crime is a “hate crime.”
- The alleged victim is older than 65 years of age or your child knew or reasonably should have known of the age.
Call an Experienced Fresno Criminal Defense Attorney
If your child or a young individual that you care about has been arrested for a crime, it is imperative that you immediately hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help protect your legal rights and ensure that you have the best defense possible to avoid a criminal conviction.