September 22, 2023 By Wallin & Klarich

Can Minors be Tried as Adults?

In California, minors are typically not tried the same as adults. However, under certain circumstances, minors can be tried as adults. If you or your child is facing criminal charges in the Irvine area, it’s important to understand if minors can be tried as adults. If you or a loved one are a minor being tried as an adult, it is important to contact an experienced defense attorney immediately to find out what your options are. 

 Choosing Wallin & Klarich to represent your case puts you in the best position to receive the best outcome for your case. We have over 40 years of experience in Southern California. Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL  for your free appeal consultation! 

Proposition 21: “The Juvenile Justice Initiative”

California Proposition 21, passed in 2000, marked a significant shift in how the state handles juvenile crime. This proposition expanded the types of crimes for which a minor can be tried as an adult, giving prosecutors more discretion in deciding whether to try a minor in juvenile or adult court. 

Proposition 21 also lowered the age at which a minor can be tried as an adult to 14 and increased penalties for gang-related offenses. Thus, more minors in Irvine and across California are now potentially subject to adult sentencing, underscoring the importance of having a competent defense attorney to help protect the minor’s rights. 

However, it’s essential to note that Proposition 57, passed in 2016, rolled back some provisions of Proposition 21. It eliminated the prosecutorial discretion to directly file charges against minors in adult court. Instead, a hearing is required in juvenile court to determine whether a minor should be transferred to adult court, giving a defense attorney an additional opportunity to argue in favor of keeping the minor in the juvenile system. 

Navigating these changing laws can be challenging, and having a seasoned defense attorney in Irvine can be critical in ensuring the minor’s case is handled appropriately. These professionals can help minors and their families understand the implications of these propositions and work tirelessly to secure a more favorable outcome.

When Can Minors Be Tried As Adults?

Minors who are between the ages of 14-17 can be tried as adults following a number of procedures including:

  • Minors who committed one of the predetermined aggravated offenses.
  • Direct file in adult criminal court
  • Prosecutor filing for a “fitness hearing” in a juvenile court

Predetermined Aggravated Offenses

Minors between the ages of 14-17 who are accused of committing one or more of the predetermined aggravated offenses will be automatically tried as an adult. The following are some of the predetermined offenses:

  • Murder
  • Sex crimes including
    • Rape with force, violence or threat of great bodily harm (PC 261 (a)(2));
    • Spousal rape with force, violence or threat of great bodily harm (PC 262 (a)(1));
    • Forcible sex acting in concert with another (PC 264.1));
    • Lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14 involving force, violence or threat of great bodily injury (PC 288 (b));
    • Forcible sexual penetration (PC 289 (a));
    • Sodomy or oral copulation by force, violence or threat of great bodily injury (PC 286, 288a);
    • Lewd and lascivious acts on a child under the age of 14 years (PC 288 (a)), unless the defendant qualifies for probation pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.066.

Juvenile Court “Fitness Hearing”

In California, before a minor is tried as an adult, a fitness hearing can be conducted in juvenile court. This hearing helps the court to decide whether the minor is ‘fit’ or ‘unfit’ to be dealt with in the juvenile justice system. If a minor is deemed ‘unfit,’ they can be transferred to adult court for trial. 

During a juvenile court fitness hearing in Irvine, the judge will consider five criteria: the seriousness of the alleged offense, the minor’s criminal sophistication, whether the minor can be rehabilitated prior to the expiration of the juvenile court’s jurisdiction, the minor’s previous delinquent history, and the success of previous attempts by the juvenile court to rehabilitate the minor.

The role of an experienced Irvine defense attorney during a fitness hearing is vital. The attorney can provide compelling arguments and present evidence that supports the minor’s case remaining in the juvenile system. This could include demonstrating the minor’s potential for rehabilitation, their degree of remorse, and their willingness to take responsibility for their actions. With the right defense strategy, it’s possible to convince the judge that the minor should be kept within the juvenile justice system, thus avoiding the harsher penalties that can come with an adult court sentence. Contact one of our experienced attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today for a free consultation!

Potential Consequences

While minors who are convicted in juvenile court are typically given sentences based on rehabilitation, minors tried as adults face much harsher sentences. Minors who are convicted in a juvenile court face a maximum sentence at the California Department of Corrections, Division of Juvenile Facilities until the age of 25. However, a minor who is tried as an adult can be sentenced just as any other adult would. The maximum sentence a juvenile tried as an adult can receive is life in prison without the possibility of parole. It is important to note that no juvenile can be sentenced to death, no matter the circumstances.

Because minors who are tried as an adult face harsh consequences, it is important to hire an experienced defense attorney who can help guide you through each step of the process. With lifelong consequences on the line, it is imperative to speak with an attorney immediately. Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have experience and know the strategies and defenses to raise that will help you or your loved one get the best possible result. Call us today!

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you or a loved one are a minor facing being tried as an adult in Irvine, CA, you need an aggressive defense attorney on your side. With 40+ years of experience, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have helped thousands of clients with their  cases. We know the most effective defenses to argue on your behalf, and we will do everything in our power to help you achieve the best possible result in your case. 

You may not be aware of all your options. Calling our office costs you nothing, but picking up the phone could be the difference between years in prison and years of freedom. Let our skilled attorneys examine your case to find the best way to avoid prison.Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

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