Can My Child Be Tried as an Adult?
The criminal justice system treats youth offenders differently than it treats adult offenders. The general rule in Connecticut is that children under 16 years old cannot be held criminally responsible for their actions. However, there are certain exceptions to that rule.
Either way, it can be frightening and confusing if your child is arrested. Our experienced juvenile defense attorneys can explain your legal options and answer any and all questions about the criminal justice process. In fact, here are answers to a few questions that parents frequently ask when their children get in trouble with the law:
Q: When can juveniles be tried as adults in Connecticut?
A: Children over 16 years old can be tried as adults. Children who are 14 or 15 years old can also be tried as adults if they commit violent crimes like murder. Children who are younger than 14 can never be tried as an adult, regardless of the crime committed.
Q: How is juvenile court different?
A: Juvenile court is different from “adult” court in many ways, but one of the most important distinctions is that juveniles are not actually “convicted” and they face lesser sentencing options. A guilty juvenile is adjudged delinquent and might have to receive drug or alcohol treatment, participate in mental health services, complete community service, or make restitution (maybe by paying to fix something they broke). Juveniles will not serve time in an adult jail, but they might be placed in a juvenile facility.
Q: Are 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds always tried as adults in Connecticut?
A: While 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds are usually tried as adults, they can apply for “youthful offender” status. (This status is also available to 14-year-olds and 15-year-olds who otherwise might be tried as adults.) Youthful offenders may receive lighter sentences. Their criminal records will be erased after completing the imposed sentenced.
Q: What other crimes are serious enough for a 14-year-old or 15-year-old to be tried as an adult?
A: In addition to murder, 14-year-olds and 15-year-olds can be tried as adults for second-degree manslaughter, assault with a firearm, second-degree or third-degree burglaries with a firearm, and other violent offenses. Prior offenses can also affect juvenile status. For example, if the juvenile previously committed a Class A felony then it is more likely that he or she would be tried as an adult for a second offense.
An experienced attorney can answer these and any other questions that you have about your child’s situation.
Reach Out to Us for Help Today
Contact the dedicated Stamford juvenile defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Daniel P. Weiner today for a free consultation if your child is arrested or charged with committing a crime. We will mount an effective defense and help ensure your child receives the lightest sentence possible.