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When Can a Juvenile be Charged as an Adult in Court?

We generally think of the division between juveniles and adults as pretty black and white. However, in Georgia, things are not so clear-cut. There are several different circumstances in which a juvenile can be charged and tried as an adult in Georgia. If you or your child are under the age of 18 and are currently facing criminal charges, it’s important to know what you are up against and whether being tried as an adult is a possibility, as it carries much harsher potential penalties.

When a Juvenile Can be Charged as an Adult in Georgia

Any juvenile who is 17 years of age will automatically be charged as an adult in Georgia. Additionally, if it is the last day of a juvenile’s 16th year, they can also be charged as an adult. In other situations, however, much younger people can also be charged. The minimum age for being charged as an adult is just 13 years old in this state. A 13-year-old can be charged as an adult if the offense they are accused of committing is violent, such as rape, manslaughter, or armed robbery. It is not mandatory that the child be charged as an adult, and the case can be transferred to juvenile court instead of being tried in criminal court, but in many situations, the case will remain in criminal court and be tried there. A lawyer may be able to help advocate for a push to juvenile court, where the penalties are much more lenient and are focused on rehabilitation as opposed to punishment. One exception is that if a child who is at least 13 years old commits a crime for which the penalty is death or life without parole, the law in Georgia requires that they be charged as an adult.

Additionally, a child who is 14 years old and in juvenile custody when they commit a violent crime, must also be tried as an adult in Georgia. Another situation where a child must automatically be tried as an adult occurs when a child who is at least 15 years old has three previous robbery charges before receiving a fourth. On the fourth charge, the child will automatically be charged as an adult and tried in criminal court. Finally, if a juvenile is at least 15 years old, the juvenile court has the option to transfer them to criminal court where they will be tried as an adult. The appropriateness of this decision depends on the circumstances of the specific case.

How a Lawyer Can Help

A lawyer can advocate for a juvenile’s case to remain in juvenile court in cases where transfer to criminal court is not automatic or mandatory. If a juvenile is tried as an adult, having a dedicated legal advocate to protect their rights and interests is critical to avoiding serious and life-altering penalties. Remember that just because you have been charged with a crime does not mean that you will be convicted. Often, a lawyer is what makes the difference between a charge and a conviction.

Contact the Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam Today

If you are facing criminal charges in Atlanta, it is important to fight them, and our experienced criminal defense attorneys are ready to zealously advocate on your behalf to keep you out of prison and your record clean. Contact Ghanayem & Rayasam today to schedule a consultation.