Typically a juvenile offender, a person between the ages of 14 and 17, is sent to juvenile court when they are suspected of committing a crime. It is believed a person within this age group has not yet developed the understanding of consequences for their actions.
There are times, however, when a juvenile will become treated as an adult in the legal system, such as when the alleged crime is considered heinous. If an offender is suspected of committing a heinous crime, they are then expected to take full responsibility for their actions. This expectation is regardless of whether or not they understood the long-term consequences involved with breaking the law.
When a Juvenile is Tried as an Adult in Arizona
The State of Arizona has guidelines set up to determine which crimes a juvenile must be charged with in order for the legal system to try them in an adult court. The alleged crime and the age of the minor are both considered before making this determination.
- Under A.R.S. 13-501 it is stated a juvenile has to be between 14 to 17 years of age and have been charged with one of these crimes to be tried in an adult court:
- First-degree murder is charged if someone takes the life of another human being through an intentional and deliberate act. It is considered the most serious degree of murder in this state and is punishable as a class one felony. If convicted of first-degree murder, the consequences are severe and can include a lifetime prison sentence.
- Second-degree murder is charged if the death of another human being was intentionally caused without deliberate actions. The exception to this charge includes the death of an unborn infant. If charged with second-degree murder, it is believed you took part in the death and knew your actions would cause severe harm or death to another person. It is also considered second-degree murder if you recklessly engage in an activity that creates a serious risk of death to another. This charge is a class 1 felony, and the consequences vary based on facts of the case.
- Forcible Sexual Assault is commonly called ‘rape’ and occurs when you knowingly and intentionally engage in oral sexual contact or sexual intercourse without the other person’s consent. If it is not oral sexual contact or sexual intercourse, then the charge would fall under a separate category of sexual abuse crimes.
Forcible sexual assault includes sexual intercourse without the consent of the other party and involves penetration of the anus, penis, or vulva using any form of said penetration. In order for it to be charged as oral sexual contact, the action had to be performed without the consent of the alleged victim and involves sexual assault to the anus, penis, or vulva by means of fear, intimidation, or verbal threats.
- Armed robbery is a theft committed by force with a deadly weapon. This charge is considered a class 2 felony, and if convicted, could mean a four to a ten-year prison sentence. This crime is committed by using a deadly weapon to take another’s property by force. The difference between a ‘robbery’ charge and ‘armed robbery’ is the use of the deadly weapon.
- Any other form of a violent felony offense
- If you are considered a chronic felony offender. Being considered a chronic felony offender means you have committed at least two felony offenses in your past. Other violent felony offenses include:
- Aggravated assault is a criminal act where you recklessly yet knowingly caused physical injury to another human being. It can also involve deliberately touching another person with the intent to cause them harm, insult them, or provoke their anger. Aggravated assault also includes intentionally causing someone to be reasonably afraid you will commit bodily harm to them or another. These actions are charged as a misdemeanor, but can quickly become a felony if aggravating circumstances are involved with your case.
- Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon is the criminal act of aggravated assault while using a deadly weapon. A deadly weapon is anything designed for lethal use, including any type of firearm. Deadly weapons can also include knives and swords, or any object that has the ability to cause death.
- Drive-by shooting is the firing of a weapon into a structure or home, or at another person from a vehicle. A drive-by shooting is considered a class 2 felony, and one of the highest felony charges in the State of Arizona. If a person should be struck by a bullet you’ve discharged from the vehicle, you could end up charged with aggravated assault or murder.
- Discharging a firearm at a structure is when you knowingly discharge a firearm at a residential structure and is considered a class 2 felony. A residential structure is an immovable or movable structure or a temporary or permanent structure that has been adapted for human lodging or residence. A structure is defined as any building, railroad car, or a place with floors and sides that is securable from any other structure attached and can be used for business, transportation, or living.
If you are a juvenile and charged or convicted as an adult, you will face the same consequences as criminals who are eighteen years or older. The only time you would not face the same consequence is if the crime committed is charged as first-degree murder.
Under Arizona law, if a person is under the age of eighteen at the time they commit an offense, they cannot receive a death penalty sentence. The courts will decide on these cases on an individual basis, depending on the facts presented, whether or not to impose a natural-life or life sentence.
- Natural Life Sentence
Natural life and life sentences are different penalties. If the courts send one to prison for life in prison, it means they will not be eligible for parole for twenty-five years. A ‘natural life’ sentence means they will go to prison for as long as they live, or until the day they die without parole.
How is a Case Transferred to Juvenile Court?
If the prosecutor decides to try a juvenile as an adult, the courts or you can file a motion to transfer the case to juvenile court. This motion is possible if there is sufficient evidence to support that your rehabilitation or that public safety will be better served by transferring your case to the juvenile court.
There are several factors that the courts will consider when it is requested a case be transferred to juvenile court. Those factors include:
- How serious was the crime?
- Do you have a previous history or criminal record?
- Whether or not you’ve had any previous commitments to secure institutions or juvenile residential placements?
- Whether or not you’ve been previously sent to the department of juvenile corrections for a felony offense?
- Whether or not you’ve committed the offense while promoting a criminal street gang or participating in a criminal street gang?
- What your views are on the crime
- Your emotional and mental condition
Why Can Juveniles Be Tried as Adults in Criminal Court?
The United States Criminal Justice system believes juveniles should be charged as an adult for two reasons:
- Young adults, juveniles, should receive punishment in the adult criminal justice system which is usually harsher and more proportional to the crimes they commit
- Having the threat of a harsher sentence will decrease juvenile crimes
There is not any real evidence to support these claims, and research indicates juvenile criminals when charged as an adult and put through the adult criminal courts serve longer sentences than they would face in a juvenile court.
Juveniles do, however, serve only a fraction of their sentence, which is often less time than they would have faced in a juvenile facility. One study conducted in Texas found that juveniles who had been sentenced in adult courts received more time, but the amount of time served was more than twenty-five percent less than the sentence given.
Another study done in the State of New York, supported the Texas study findings. It also found adolescents who went through the adult criminal justice system were proving to be more likely to be convicted and receive a prison sentence and then served an identical term to what they would have received had they gone through the juvenile system.
There is also little evidence to support the belief that sentencing juveniles as adults reduce juvenile crimes. Two studies have, in fact, studied the relationship between juvenile crime and adult sentencing. These studies showed juvenile offenders who were tried as adults and served adult sentences, were not ‘scared straight,’ but were more likely to recommit their crimes than those who went through the juvenile courts and sentencing.
There are some cases where a judge can grant a ‘waiver’ of the juvenile justice system. When this waiver is done, the juvenile is sent directly to adult court. When a juvenile case is subject to a waiver, it is much more severe or involves a minor who is a repeat offender. If you are being tried as an adult, it is possible your sentencing will be much harsher but may provide you with more constitutional protections. Contact the Phoenix Criminal Attorney to find out what those protections are and make sure your rights are protected.
Parents Need Legal Defense When Their Juvenile Faces Adult Charges
No parent ever wants to see their child in trouble, but it is devastating if your child is tried for an offense as an adult. Children make mistakes, and they deserve a second chance. You will want skilled, knowledgeable defense against these charges from an attorney who understands the Arizona court systems and the laws of the state. Phoenix Criminal Attorney is here for you and will help you through this difficult legal challenge.
What is the Difference Between the Adult Criminal Process and the Juvenile Criminal Process?
Some parents, and others, mistakenly believe that juvenile charges are not serious. This belief is not valid. If a juvenile is convicted of charges, no matter what their age is at the time of the crime, they can face a prison sentence that, for some can be for years. The difference between adult criminal proceedings and juvenile criminal proceedings is that there is more focus on the protection of the younger defendants.
The State of Arizona has separate court systems for juvenile offenders in many counties. The records of a juvenile are generally sealed, and the hearing takes place solely before a judge rather than in front of a jury.
If convicted of the crime, the consequences for the juvenile will be decided on by the judge and are customized according to the facts involved in the case. When adults go through this legal process, they do not receive as much flexibility. As a first-time offender, an intensive treatment program will likely be chosen as a sentence. If you’re an underage defendant and it has been decided you will be charged as an adult, the possible consequences will be established by the law and will be limited.
If the offense has been charged as a felony, you will have to spend time in jail if convicted of the crime. The conviction will stay on your record for a longer time, which may impact your ability to receive an education or pursue a career once you are released. You need legal representation against these charges. You want to pursue every legal outlet to reduce these charges and protect your future. Phoenix Criminal Attorney understands how serious these charges are, and is ready to defend your rights, reputations, and future.
Arizona Bill Changes the Situation for Juvenile Offenders
In May of 2018, Governor Doug Ducey proposed a new bill that would change the situation for juvenile offenders in the State of Arizona. The Bill would allow the state’s juvenile system to hold older offenders up to the age of nineteen and not have to transfer them to the adult court system.
This Bill, House Bill 2356, applied to juveniles aged at least 17-years of age and would keep them from having to face penalties and sanctions the adults experience after committing a crime. The Children’s Action Alliance reports more than forty percent of the young offenders are aged seventeen or older. At this age, prosecutors often have to wait until the juvenile turns eighteen before they can file charges to have them charged or treated as an adult.
The Bill, however, did not apply to violent offenders as their charges are outlined in Arizona Revised Statutes 13-501. These violent offenders would still face the adult criminal process, regardless of their age. If your child is facing felony charges, you need to take immediate action. Phoenix Criminal Attorney understands the process a juvenile will face in the criminal justice system and is ready to help you and your child fight these charges.
Why You and Your Juvenile Need an Attorney When Charged as an Adult
There is no way you and your child can go through the legal process of them being charged as an adult in the Arizona court system. Receiving a delinquency conviction when your child is at a young age will change their life. Having a criminal defense attorney from Phoenix Criminal Attorney working beside you will allow for a possible dismissal, a not guilty plea, or a negotiation for a better plea deal. It may be possible for your attorney to reduce the charges from a felony charge to a misdemeanor.
The city of Phoenix is large enough to have a special juvenile court. There is a judge assigned to hear each of the cases, and the records are often sealed from the public. Any trials that are needed are held in front of the judge and not a jury. Some counties in Arizona are not as big as the County of Maricopa, and the judges in those counties also present in front of other cases and try juvenile cases at a separate court proceeding from the criminal cases.
There is a new ferocity regarding the punishments dealt to juvenile offenders, as many legislators believe these young people need to be punished just as harshly as adults in certain situations. The State of Arizona believes this also and has set laws in place that punish juvenile offenders as well as, restrict their chances of future rehabilitation.
You will want an attorney from Phoenix Criminal Attorney working with you if your child is looking at adult criminal charges. We will do everything in our power to see that the justice system treats them fairly, and if rehabilitation is a possibility, we will ensure they receive this deserved chance at life.
Find an Attorney Who Handles Juveniles When Charged as an Adult Near Me
At Phoenix Criminal Lawyer law firm, we specialize in juvenile criminal defense. Call us today 602-551-8092 and find out how our aggressive defense will help you and your child through this challenging legal battle. These are serious charges, and a conviction of these charges will follow your child throughout life. Call us today and let us help find a better solution for your juvenile.