3 Crimes Where a Minor Will be Tried as an Adult
Juvenile court is serious, and any minor who goes through it will carry the consequences for the rest of their life. But it’s typically not as serious as criminal court is for an adult. A minor is in a formative part of their life where they are expected to make mistakes, sometimes especially poor ones.
If a minor commits a crime, they usually go to juvenile court and receive a punishment that is meant to set them on the straight and narrow. While criminal court has the same goal, an adult isn’t expected to change from their punishment as quickly as a child may.
But, there are some crimes that, even if committed by a minor, the courts of Pennsylvania are not going to show leniency for. There are some crimes where even a minor will be tried as an adult. If your child has been charged with a crime that can see them face criminal court, you need to contact the criminal defense attorneys at Mazzoni Valvano Szewczyk & Karam.
Crimes That Aren’t Tried in Juvenile Court
There are some crimes where it’s inconsistent whether or not a minor will go to criminal or juvenile court. Drug crimes, for example, can be held in juvenile court if it’s for minor drug crimes like possession of drugs like marijuana. Possession of certain drugs can send a minor to criminal court, and so can selling or transporting with intention to sell.
In these instances, what usually helps a judge decide whether to send them to juvenile or criminal court are two things. If the minor shows a willingness for treatment, supervision, and rehabilitation, and if they show no signs of being a public danger, the court will consider trying them in juvenile court. If they turn 18 before they go to court, but were 17 when they were charged, they will be tried as an adult.
There are other crimes where a minor will be tried as an adult with almost no exceptions.
Murder is defined as intentionally killing someone. Unlike most states, Pennsylvania has three different degrees of murder charges. The third-degree is for a murder that wasn’t premeditated or the consequence of the defendant committing a crime, but also wasn’t an accident. An example of something that would lead to a third-degree murder charge would be killing in the spur of the moment. It’s not quite what could be called a crime of passion, because there was clear controlled intention, rather than uncontrollable provocation.
Second-degree murder would be killing someone while committing another violent crime like robbery, burglary, arson, or kidnapping. First-degree murder would be a premeditated murder, or any murder that’s deliberate and planned.
If a minor is charged with any of these crimes, they will face criminal court. Juvenile court does not handle cases of murder.
#2. Voluntary Manslaughter
Manslaughter involves a lack of control of some kind when you kill someone. Involuntary manslaughter would be killing someone in an accident caused by the defendant’s negligence. A car accident is a common example, and juvenile court will sometimes handle involuntary manslaughter.
Juvenile court will not handle voluntary manslaughter, or crimes of passion, where someone was provoked into murder in most instances. If a minor is 15 years or older, is accused of using a weapon in the crime, or has priors for indecent assault, rape, robbery, or other violent crimes, they must be handled in criminal court.
#3. Crimes with a Deadly Weapon
If a violent crime was committed with a weapon, the minor will automatically face criminal court. The use of a weapon is a metric that confirms that the minor still poses a danger to the public. The crimes where the use of a deadly weapon necessitates criminal court include:
- Indecent assault
- Aggravated assault
- Grand theft auto
These crimes alone can see a minor face criminal court as well, but not overwhelmingly so.
Don’t Wait, Contact the Juvenile Defense Attorneys at MVSK Law
If you’re a minor or the parent of one who has been charged with a crime that will see them face criminal court, you need a criminal defense attorney immediately. There’s only so much time to build a foundation for their defense, so every second counts. Contact us as soon as possible so we can protect your child to the best of our ability.