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When Can a Juvenile be Tried As an Adult?


Typically, a juvenile offender who has committed a crime is sent to juvenile court for trial and punishment. The law and society generally view juveniles in a different light than adults giving them the benefit of the doubt that because they aren’t adults, they don’t fully understand the consequences of their actions.

However, when the crime is serious enough, some states do allow for juveniles to be treated as an adult in both trial and punishment.

In the State of Arizona, a juvenile who has committed a serious crime can be tried as an adult. According to A.R.S. 13-501, a juvenile between the ages of 14 and 17 can be tried as an adult—and potentially given life imprisonment—for the following crimes:

  • Armed Robbery
  • Forcible Sexual Assault
  • First Degree Murder
  • Second Degree Murder

Juveniles can also be tried as an adult in any other violent felony offense including:

  • Drive-by shooting
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Aggravated Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Discharging a firearm at a structure
  • Felony committed by a chronic felony offender

In some cases, the county attorney is required to bring criminal prosecution against a juvenile who is 15, 16 or 17 years old in the same manner as an adult. These cases usually involve more serious offenses such as murder and sexual assault.

Juveniles who are 14 years old can also be tried as an adult if they face certain types of felony charges. When charged and tried as an adult, these juveniles can face up to life in prison as punishment.

Be sure to contact an attorney right away if you or your child is facing criminal charges. An experiencedJuvenile Attorney such as Charlie Naegle in Mesa, AZ can help your chances of not being charged as an adult.

There are certain motions that can be filed that will send the case back to juvenile court. Those motions require specific information that only an experienced lawyer will be able to provide.

Mr. Naegle will go to work for you to ensure you get fair representation in your case. His relationships with both the prosecution and judges will make a difference in the outcome.

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