Research shows that the adolescent brain does not fully develop until later in life and that the prefrontal cortex — the part of the brain that facilitates higher cognitive functions like behavior control, planning, and risk assessment — is one of the last areas to mature. For a long time, it was believed that the brain finished developing rather early in life; however, many studies show this is not the case. Still, the court system has delayed making use of this information to create more informed decisions and better serve society.
Throughout the United States, minors can be charged as adults in criminal cases, sometimes from a very young age. Currently, minors 16 and older can be charged formally as adults, meaning they can face the same sentences adults can if they’re convicted.
It takes a compassionate and hard-working attorney to protect your child from suffering the full consequences of the criminal justice system in San Diego. Attorney Dod of Dod Law has ample experience working with teenagers facing criminal charges and their families. You can count on Attorney Dod to guide you through the complex justice system while fighting for a better future for your child.
When Can a Minor be Tried as an Adult in California?
A minor’s criminal case is typically prosecuted as an adult’s when the charges are severe enough to warrant punishment rather than rehabilitation alone. The court will review several factors to conclude whether to try an adolescent as an adult. The prosecution will deliberate the child’s mental capacity to determine whether they had the ability to think and act like an adult at the time they allegedly committed the crime.
Some of the crimes for which a 16 or 17-year old may face adult charges are:
- Murder or attempted murder
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Assault with a firearm
- Gang crimes
- Sex crimes against minors
At this time, the court believes that punishment is a necessary addition to rehabilitation when the above crimes are committed. If your child is facing accusations of any of the above offenses, it’s important to work with a defense lawyer early on. The sooner you get the involvement of a criminal defense lawyer who works with juveniles, the more negotiation can take place to reduce the consequences your child will experience as a result of their accusation.
Your juvenile defense lawyer can get to work communicating with prosecutors to fight for a reduced charge or to have your child’s charge dismissed if they can convince prosecutors that there’s insufficient evidence to gain a conviction. Additionally, your lawyer may argue for your child to be sentenced to probation — a much less severe sentence than incarceration or juvenile detention — if they’re ultimately convicted of and sentenced for the offense.
Factors the Court Considers When Charging a Child for a Crime
Not every minor will be charged as an adult in California. It depends on a few key factors:
- The defendant’s criminal sophistication
- Whether the defendant can be rehabilitated before becoming an adult
- The defendant’s criminal history
- The severity and nature of the alleged offense
- Any previous attempts to rehabilitate the defendant
Before your child is charged as an adult, he or she will attend a hearing in which the court will decide if they’re able to be rehabilitated. If it’s likely your child can be rehabilitated, he or she may avoid the adult criminal system.
Juvenile Defense in San Diego You Can Rely On
Prison is no place for children, even if they have made some mistakes that placed them on the path to it. Together with Dod Law on your side, we can work to protect your son or daughter from being treated like an adult in court. Our goal is to have your child’s charges reduced or dropped to a lesser charge to ensure their fair treatment as juveniles by the court. We may do this through a thorough investigation of all the evidence available that may hurt or help your child’s case, and communicating with the prosecution as soon as possible.
Attorney Dod has more than 17 years of experience fighting criminal charges throughout San Diego and has fought misdemeanor and felony charges of all kinds, with more than 75 jury trials and 400 preliminary hearings under his belt. Call (619) 814-5110 for a free consultation or complete our contact form to get started on your child’s defense.