When a juvenile commits a crime, they are often tried in a juvenile court. These courts are meant to rehabilitate the child, under the assumption that they were not mature enough to understand the consequences of the crime they committed.
In more extreme cases, however, juveniles may be tried in adult court. This could be the difference between a short stay in a detention center and decades in prison. But how is it decided if a juvenile is tried in adult court?
Most times, it is up to the juvenile court to determine whether or not they can help the child. If the juvenile is shown to have acted due to a mental health condition, it may be more suitable for them to be placed in a mental hospital under the juvenile court system than in prison.
But with more heinous crimes come harsher punishments. Many juveniles tried for murder are waived to adult court, especially when they are older or have had previous offenses.
Recent research has shown that the adult brain is not fully developed until age 25. Specifically in teenagers and young adults, the reward center of the brain is more active, and the part of the brain that controls your impulses is less developed. This leads to more rash decision-making among our youth, often without considering the consequences behind their actions.
With this in mind, many courts aim to rehabilitate juveniles in hopes that they will develop into better functioning adults. But if the juvenile court decides they cannot help the child, or if the crime is too serious, the case could be passed to adult court.
Regardless of the charge, it is always best to consult with an attorney well-versed in juvenile crimes to evaluate your case, and determine your best path forward.