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Under Proposition 21, California law permits a juvenile over the age of 16 to be tried as an adult for any crime under the court’s discretion. Between the ages of 14-16, the juvenile can only be tried as an adult for serious violent or sex-related crimes, such as
- Murder with special circumstances (if the minor personally killed the victim);
- Rape with force, violence, or threat of great bodily harm;
- Spousal rape with force, violence, or threat of great bodily harm;
- Forcible sex in concert with another;
- Lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14 with force, violence, or threat of great bodily injury;
- Forcible sexual penetration
- Sodomy or oral copulation by force, violence, or threat of great bodily injury.
Before a juvenile can be tried as an adult, the court must make a determination of his or her fitness to stand trial as an adult. The decision will turn on whether the treatment, training, and care programs of the juvenile system would be effective in rehabilitating the minor, and whether the court believes these programs would be able to reasonably deter the minor from future criminal behavior. This involves reviewing multiple factors concerning the case and the defendant’s circumstances, including:
- The gravity of the offense and the circumstances of the case;
- The minor’s degree of criminal sophistication;
- Whether rehabilitation could be achieved prior to the expiration of the juvenile court’s jurisdiction;
- History of delinquency; and
- Whether past attempts at rehabilitating the minor by the juvenile court have been effective.
If the court determines that the juvenile must be tried as an adult, the case will be moved into the adult court system, and, if found guilty, the defendant can be punished in the same manner that an adult would be punished for the crime he or she committed.
Juvenile offenses can have serious, long-lasting consequences, and if you or your child is being prosecuted in juvenile court, you should consult with an attorney who has experience and skill in juvenile defense. At the Law Offices of James S. Hong, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience fighting for the rights of juvenile defendants. Contact us today for a free, no obligation phone consultation.
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