If your child becomes involved in an illegal activity, you may believe that rehabilitation would be much more effective than punishment to deter bad behavior in the future. We understand that juveniles are different from adults on an intellectual, emotional and psychological level, and their developmental stage may dictate how they became involved in an illegal activity. The laws generally take that into consideration by imposing different expectations and outcomes for juveniles in the court system. Otherwise, an early mistake could ruin an entire life. 

The court does treat some juveniles as adults, though. The NJDC or National Juvenile Defender Center explains how juveniles may face adult charges. 

When are children charged as adults? 

A juvenile is anyone under the age of 18. If your child commits a crime, the juvenile court will have jurisdiction until your child’s 21st birthday. However, if your child reaches 21 before there is any prosecution, then he or she will face adult charges. 

Youths ages 14 and over are subject to adult court if they commit acts considered felonies as adults. If there is probable cause, a youth can wind up in adult court. If your child has a conviction as an adult, he or she will always face charges as an adult for any future offenses. 

When is juvenile court better? 

Having your child charged as a juvenile may open options for avoiding more severe punishments. There are other options, aside from jail time. A child may receive a warning, an order to a treatment program or community service. More information about juvenile defense is available on our webpage.