Up until this year, any child aged 14 or older could be charged as an adult in California. However, the law changed recently and the age has now increased to 16 years old. Basically, the courts in California, under pressure from the public, determined that people under 16 years old can’t possibly be held to the same standards as adults.
Under this new law, anyone aged 16 or older can formally be charged as an adult. This means that they can be sentenced as an adult. Of course, before the court decides how to treat the offender, they’ll look at several factors. If they believe the child had the mental capacity and ability to think and act like an adult, they’ll be tried as an adult.
This is a bit surprising. With the number of young people who engage in gang activity in California, you’d think the age would be younger. This is especially true given the fact that gang crimes are taken very seriously in San Diego. Under the new rule, if your child is 14 or 15, they can no longer be treated as an adult in criminal court.
Regardless of whether they’ll be tried as a juvenile or an adult, seeing your child face the possibility of jail is scary. When your child was growing up, the last thing you’d ever think you’d have to do is fight to keep them out of prison. Unfortunately, when our kids commit crimes, they have to face the penalties. This is why it’s so important that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in San Diego. They can work with the prosecutor to try to get the charges either reduced or dismissed. Or, if this isn’t possible, they can push for probation rather than jail time or a sentence to a juvenile detention facility.
What Kinds of Crimes are Considered Serious Enough to Try Your Child as an Adult in San Diego?
There are certain crimes that the California courts take so seriously that they will try your child as an adult. As long as they’re 16 or older, if your child commits any of these crimes, they’ll probably be facing prison time. While it seems kinder to raise the age to 16, this means that, if your child is 16, they’ll be facing jail time. The odds of the court thinking your child will be completely rehabilitated in two years is slim. This means the odds of them only being sentenced to a juvenile detention center are small.
The crimes that almost always carry a prison sentence for children 16 years old and up include:
- Murder and attempted murder
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Assault with a firearm
- Gang-related crimes
- Any sex crime against a minor
For these crimes, the courts feel that rehabilitation is not enough. There is some degree of punishment required. Plus, these crimes are so dangerous that the court needs to take public safety into account. If someone commits a murder, they can’t just be released back into the public. It will take years before the system feels they can be trusted to not commit other serious crimes.
What Factors Will the Courts Consider in Determining if a Minor Should Be Charged as an Adult?
Before a minor will be tried as an adult, the court will hold a hearing to determine their fitness for rehabilitation. Basically, the court will look to see if the offender can benefit from the rehabilitation offered in a juvenile detention center. If not, they’ll be sentenced to jail or prison instead.
There are five (5) main factors the court will take into account. These include:
- The criminal sophistication of the defendant
- Whether they can be rehabilitated in the short time before they turn 18
- Previous criminal history
- Seriousness and nature of the crime
- The court’s previous attempts at rehabilitating the defendant
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in California
If your child has been charged with any sort of serious crime in California, you need help. Call and talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer in San Diego as soon as possible. They can review the case and see what your kid is up against. Depending on how old your child was when they committed the crime, they could be facing some serious prison time.
Contact our office and schedule your initial consultation today. With so much at stake, it’s important that you have an expert by your side. They’ll work hard to keep your child home and avoid any possible prison time.