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Montgomery, Adams & Wyatt, PLC

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When is a child charged as an adult for a crime?

Each state takes control over its own laws and punishments. How a court handles a child perpetrator depends on the laws in that state. In Arkansas, a child may be tried as a adult, but it greatly depends on the situation. Each case is handled on its own and decided based upon the circumstances and the law.

According to the Nation Juvenile Defender Center, any case involving someone under the age of 18 is referred first to the juvenile court system. The youngest age at which a child may be tried for a crime under the system is 10. The majority of cases will likely remain in juvenile court, which means the child is tried under juvenile standards and not adult standards, but there are times when a child can be charged as an adult.

Standard juvenile charges

Cases that involve a youth age 10-17 will typically remain in juvenile court if the crime is something that an adult would be charged for as a misdemeanor. Any child up to the age of 15 will almost always be tried in juvenile court regardless of the type of crime committed or the type of charge. The court can keep jurisdiction over a minor who has been convicted in the court until he or she is 21 years old.

Adult court charges

A minor who is 14 or older may have his or her case transferred to the adult court system. It is up to the state to decide which cases get transferred, but it is usually reserved for crimes of a serious nature, such as violent crimes. Typically, if the person is at least 16 years old and has committed what would be a felony if he or she was an adult, the case will be sent to adult criminal court. It is important to note a hearing must take place to allow the transfer of a case from juvenile to adult court.

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