Juveniles Tried as Adults in Arizona
If your child is facing criminal charges, you’re probably concerned and eager to understand the potential consequences. Juvenile criminal charges in Arizona are handled in a specific way but in a few instances, underage defendants could be treated as adults.
When Will Juveniles Be Treated as Adults?
Arizona has strict regulations in place that determine when the juvenile court process is going to be employed and when a young person will face the criminal process that adults have to deal with. More information about the specifics is available in Arizona Revised Statutes 13-501.
According to the regulation, a juvenile will have to be between 14 and 17 to be treated as an adult in court. In addition, they should have committed one of the following crimes:
- First degree murder
- Second degree murder
- Armed robbery
- A violent felony offense
- Forcible sexual assault
- A repeat felony offense
In this definition, a violent felony offense could refer to several different things. The category is broad and it includes crimes like aggravated assault, discharging a firearm at a structure, drive-by shootings, and multiple others.
Difference between the Juvenile and Adult Criminal Processes
Some believe that juvenile charges aren’t as serious. This isn’t the case. Convicted defendants, regardless of their age, could face a prison sentence that will sometimes last a number of years. The difference between juvenile and adult criminal proceedings is more focused on the protections that younger defendants are entitled to.
In many Arizona counties, there is a separate court system for juvenile offenders. Juvenile records will typically remain sealed, which is why the hearing will take place solely in front of a judge rather than a jury.
The consequences for the defendant will be determined by the judge and customized. When an adult is going through the process, there isn’t as much flexibility. Intensive treatment programs will often be chosen for first-time juvenile offenders. When underage defendants are being dealt with as adults, however, the scope of possible repercussions will be limited and established by law.
For any felony offense beyond the first one, the defendant will have to be sent to jail in the aftermath of losing the trial. The conviction will remain on record for a prolonged period of time, which could affect a young person’s ability to obtain education or a career upon their release.
Click here for more information on juvenile dui charges.
New Arizona Bill May Change the Situation for Juvenile Offenders
A new bill that was signed by Governor Doug Ducey in May 2018 is going to change the situation for juvenile offenders in Arizona.
Through the bill, the state’s juvenile justice system is allowed to hold older offenders up to the age of 19 without transferring them to the adult court system. House Bill 2356 applies to individuals aged at least 17, which will keep many approaching adulthood from having to face the sanctions and penalties adults experience in the aftermath of committing a crime.
According to the Children’s Action Alliance, more than 40 percent of the youths who have committed a crime are aged 17 or older. As a result, prosecutors will often wait until the defendant turns 18 to file charges and have them treated as adults. Had the new bill been in place in 2017, approximately 200 cases would have been handled by the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections.
The new bill, however, will not apply to the violent offenders as they’re outlined in Arizona Revised Statutes 13-501. These individuals will still face the adult court process, regardless of their age.
If your child is facing criminal charges, you should undertake immediate actions. The consequences can be long-lasting, even in the case of a mistake. Talk to a criminal defense attorney to understand the process better and come up with a strategy aimed at giving your child the best possible outcome.