Can a Juvenile Be Tried in Adult Criminal Court?


If your child commits a serious crime, you may be worried that he or she might face charges in criminal court rather than in juvenile court. Juvenile court is generally less intimidating, and often penalizes the guilty with less severe consequences than those they might experience in criminal court. For that reason, parents almost always want to see their children’s cases go to juvenile court.

In order to determine where your child’s case will end up, find out the key differences between juvenile and adult criminal court, and find out when children can be tried as adults in Ohio.

Ohio Laws & Juvenile Court

Children will make mistakes. They are young, inexperienced, and often fail to understand the consequences of their actions until it’s too late. However, when a child’s mistake is extremely serious, they may wind up facing serious legal consequences. When a child is charged with a crime, the way their case is handled will largely depend on their age and the severity of the offense.

In Ohio, juvenile court has jurisdiction over anyone under the age of 18, which means the juvenile court will decide whether or not a child charged with a crime will face judgment in juvenile or adult criminal court. There are several rules that allow children to be tried as adults under special circumstances in Ohio depending on the child’s age and the types of charges they face.

The Severity of the Crime

Children charged with a felony can be tried as adults if they are 14 years old or older. If a child is charged with a category one offense, such as murder, and is 16 years old or older, they can be tried as adults. However, if the child was as young as 14 at the time the crime was supposed to have occurred, but they have been adjudicated, they could be tried in adult criminal court.

Once a child is tried as an adult, any subsequent criminal acts will also be tried in criminal court. Additionally, the juvenile court can keep jurisdiction over the child until the age of 21, so long as the offense they committed occurred before their 18th birthday.

The Key Differences Between Juvenile Court & Criminal Court

Juvenile court and criminal court are similar in several ways, though they have very significant differences. Both courts aim to seek justice and determine whether or not the accused person is guilty. However, juvenile court aims to rehabilitate and correct bad behaviors, whereas the adult criminal court is designed to punish. A child tried in juvenile court might be penalized with mandatory community service, time in a correctional facility, and behavioral counseling, whereas someone tried as an adult might go to prison or pay steep fees.

If your child was charged with a crime in Ohio, make sure you know what you can do to protect their future. Our knowledgeable criminal defense attorney at Hartwig Law LLC has ample experience defending juveniles in and out of court, so he knows precisely what to do to defend your child.

Contact Hartwig Law LLC to discuss your juvenile case with our Youngstown criminal defense lawyer.

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