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Can a Juvenile Be Charged as an Adult in California?

There is nothing more devastating to a parent than learning their child is accused of committing a crime, especially when that crime is a particularly reprehensible one. Unfortunately, courts in California will pursue harsher penalties for harsher crimes, including trying certain juveniles as adults. Please continue reading and reach out to our experienced Tehama County juvenile crimes lawyer to learn more about what happens when a child is charged as an adult here in California and how our legal team can fight for your child’s future at every turn. Here are some of the questions you may have:

Can a California court charge a child as an adult?

Typically, when a child is accused of juvenile delinquency, the child will appear before a judge at a juvenile detention hearing. In most cases, the court holds a jurisdictional hearing wherein they will present evidence against the child, and the child’s lawyer will work to disprove the evidence and argue on behalf of the child. If a child is found guilty of the charges presented against him, the child will likely attend a Dispositional Hearing. It’s paramount that you hire a knowledgeable lawyer at this time, as an attorney with extensive experience handling juvenile cases can fight for a wide array of dispositional alternatives, thereby minimizing the consequences the child may face.

That said, when juveniles are accused of certain particularly heinous crimes and are of a certain age, they may be charged as an adult. For example, if a child is at least 14 years old and is accused of rape, kidnapping, murder/attempted murder, robbery with a weapon, or certain drug crimes, courts may charge the child as an adult. If the child is then found guilty, they will likely send the child to the Division of Juvenile Justice, where he or she will be held until reaching the age of 18. The child will then be transferred to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

What penalties can a juvenile face even if he/she is not charged as an adult?

Depending on the severity of the crime, a juvenile can face a wide range of potential penalties. Just some of the penalties a child may face (even if he or she is not tried as an adult) are as follows:

  • High fines
  • Restitution
  • Community Services
  • Juvenile Hall Commitment
  • State Rehabilitative Facility Commitment


Attorney Cohen has fought on behalf of those charged with crimes and traffic violations for over 30 years, and he is ready to fight for you, too. Contact Cohen Criminal Law today to schedule your free initial consultation with our firm.