When Can a Juvenile Be Tried as an Adult in Court?
In Texas, when children or juveniles are accused of crimes, their cases are normally tried in juvenile courts and not under the adult criminal justice system. But, in certain cases, the law can sometimes mandate or allow the courts to treat children as adults. In such cases, a juvenile can be tried as an adult and, if convicted, also penalized as an adult.
It’s important to remember that cases where juveniles are tried as adults typically involve severe crimes or children who already have past criminal records.
At What Age Can a Juvenile Be Tried as an Adult in Texas?
Juveniles under 17 years old or older than 10 years old are usually tried in juvenile courts. This applies to Class C misdemeanors and other minor offenses up to capital murder. But when a child turns 17 years old, they will automatically be tried as an adult if they commit a crime. It’s also important to note that under Texas law, many juvenile offenders can be tried as adults due to the following:
- If the child is 14 years old and no older than 17, the judge can decide on whether to refer the juvenile offender to adult court. This is known as the judicial waiver.
- If the child is 14 years old and no older than 17 and is facing a charge of aggravated controlled substance felony, a first-degree felony, or capital felony, they may be tried as an adult.
- If the child is 15 years old and no older than 17 and is facing a state jail felony, third-degree felony, or second-degree felony, they may be tried in adult court.
- If a juvenile offender has a previous conviction in adult court, they’ll be automatically considered an adult and prosecuted as an adult for any felony offenses in the future. But this does not apply in cases that resulted in a reversal, acquittal, or dismissal.
When judges decide on whether a juvenile offender should be prosecuted in adult court, they must consider, among other factors, the following:
- Whether the offense affected a person or property. A transfer to adult court is common for offenses against another person.
- The child’s maturity and sophistication.
- The child’s psychological health.
- The child’s juvenile record.
- Whether the child is a danger to public safety and the possibility of rehabilitating the child through services, facilities, and procedures currently available in juvenile courts.
Speak to an Experienced Fort Worth Juvenile Defense Lawyer Today
If your child is facing a charge for a serious crime that may possibly end up in adult court, you need a Fort Worth juvenile defense lawyer who’s familiar with the local juvenile justice system. Get in touch with the law office of Kyle Whitaker to discuss your child’s case as soon as possible. You can find out more about the best options for your child by speaking with our Fort Worth juvenile defense lawyer. Send us an online message or call our office at 817-332-7703 to set up your case review today.