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When Can a Juvenile Be Charged in Adult Court?

For most intents and purposes, a person becomes an adult at age 18. However, when it comes to Georgia criminal law, a person can be tried as an adult even if they have not yet reached the age of 18.

According to Ga. Code § 16-3-1, the minimum age for a person to be tried for a crime in Georgia is 13 years old. So even if a child stole something at age 10, they cannot face any penalties because a child under the age of 13 cannot form the required criminal intent to commit a delinquent act, according to Georgia law.

Once a child reaches age 13, though, there are various situations in which they can be charged as an adult for committing certain crimes, even before reaching the age of 18. Here’s a look at some situations in which a juvenile can be charged in adult court.

Ages 13 to 17

Once a child reaches 13 years old, if they commit a crime for which the penalty is death or life without parole, then they must be charged as an adult under Georgia law. An example of this would be murder.

If a child is at least 14 years old and in juvenile custody when they commit a violent crime, they must also be tried as an adult in Georgia. Another situation in which a child must automatically be tried as an adult occurs when a child who is age 15 years or older has three previous robbery charges. On the fourth charge, the child will be charged as an adult and tried in criminal court.

Once a juvenile reaches 15 years old, the juvenile court is allowed to transfer them to criminal court, where they will be tried as an adult. This decision is based on the circumstances of the specific case, but typically the crime is one that would be a felony if committed by an adult. This includes the following crimes:

It is also important to note that any juvenile who is 17 years old will automatically be charged as an adult in Georgia. A juvenile who is just one day before turning 17 can also be charged as an adult.

Having a lawyer on your side is important, as they can advocate to keep your child in juvenile court. This is the better option, as the penalties would be less strict.

Contact Our Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers Today

The laws regarding charging juveniles as adults are not so clear-cut. In some cases, teens can be charged as adults, but it depends on the circumstances.

The criminal defense lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam in Georgia can advocate for your child. We can help them remain in juvenile court or protect their rights and interests if they are tried as an adult. To schedule a consultation, call (404) 561-0202 or fill out the online form.