When May a Juvenile Be Tried as an Adult Under California Law?

Long Beach Juvenile LawyerDistrict Attorneys in Long Beach and throughout California have a great deal of power to charge a juvenile as an adult.  According to one Long Beach Juvenile Defense Attorney, the prosecutor may elect to file an accusatory pleading directly in adult criminal court when a juvenile who is 16 years old or older is accused of committing any of the felonies listed in the Welfare & Institutions Code section 707(b), as well as one that may be punishable by death or life imprisonment or one in which the juvenile personally used a firearm. In accordance with CA law. Filing charges directly against a juvenile in criminal court under Welf & I C §707(d) as authorized by Proposition 21 is well within the prosecutor’s charging authority. Such a filing, however, is not necessarily an indication of a finding of unfitness.

In addition, under Welf & I C §707(d)(2), the county DA may file directly in criminal court against a child who is 14 years old or older under the following circumstances:

• The juvenile is alleged to have committed an offense that would be punishable by death or life imprisonment if it had been committed by an adult, or

• The juvenile personally used a firearm in committing or attempting to commit a felony (see Pen C §12022.5), or

• The juvenile had previously been found to have committed an offense listed in Welf & I C §602(b), or

• The juvenile committed the offense in association with a street gang, or

• The offense was a hate crime, or

• The victim was disabled or elderly

There is also a presumption of unfitness and hence the juvenile can be tried as an adult when the child is 16 years old or older and has been declared a ward on at least two prior occasions for having committed two or more felony offenses when 14 years old or older unless the child can show that he or she is amenable on each of the factors. Most legal analysts agree with this current statutory scheme as set forth in the juvenile laws in the state,

On the other hand, in the event a juvenile who is 14 years old or older has personally committed murder with special circumstances or certain sex offenses, he or she must be tried directly in adult criminal court. Welf & I C §602(b). A prosecution under Welf & I C §602(b) may be initiated by grand jury indictment. Certainly a local long beach criminal lawyer should be consulted when a juvenile is facing adult charges.

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