When your teen gets into legal trouble, you may not worry too much until you learn that the prosecution wants to try your child as an adult. Facing the judicial system is consequential at any age, but the process and outcome are harsher on adults than on kids. Therefore, your child is at risk of more severe penalties and lifelong effects if he or she goes through the adult criminal system.
What factors go into this decision?
Ohio laws on juvenile transfers
The courts want children to turn their lives around and become successful adults, so any chance of that happening usually takes priority. However, certain circumstances allow for the transfer to the adult criminal system after an investigation and/or hearing. For discretionary waivers, the requirements are as follows:
- The child is at least 14 years old
- The teen faces felony charges and is likely to be guilty (probable cause)
- The child will not cooperate in going to a rehab facility
- The teen presents a danger to the community
A mandatory waiver is for serious crimes. Murder charges can lead to a transfer for those as young as 14 years old, but in some cases, the minimum age is 16. This is also the age for crimes against property or persons, such as aggravated robbery. Another factor includes the juvenile record of your child. It is also possible for your child to receive both a juvenile and adult court sentence.
Once an adult, always an adult
Ohio's approach is that any child who has received a felony conviction in the adult court system is no longer a child and from then on will always be subject to adult proceedings. Therefore, it is imperative that your child has a strong legal defense to help keep him or her in juvenile court and receiving the help necessary for your teen to start making better choices. If your child receives a nonqualifying conviction, he or she will return to juvenile court and obtain an expungement of the adult court records.