Juvenile Charged as Adult
Only the juvenile court has jurisdiction over all individuals alleged to have committed a crime before age 18. A minor may not be prosecuted in adult court for any crime unless the prosecutor makes a motion to transfer the case from juvenile to adult court (Welf & Inst Code § 708(a)(1)). If the prosecutor makes a motion to transfer a case to adult court, the probation officer will prepare a report and the court will hold a transfer hearing and decide if the case will stay in juvenile court or transfer to adult court.
Prosecutors motion to transfer
The prosecutor may make a motion to transfer a juvenile case to adult court if the minor was 16 or older at the time of a felony offense, or if the minor was 14 or over and is accused of committing a Welf & Inst Code § 707(b) offense. The prosecutor has the burden of proof to show by a preponderance of the evidence why the minor should be transferred to adult court.
The juvenile court judge has discretion to give weight to any relevant factor in deciding to transfer a juvenile court to adult court. The factors the judge looks at are:
- Degree of criminal sophistication exhibited by the minor.
- Whether the minor can be rehabilitated before juvenile court jurisdiction expires.
- Minors prior delinquent history
- Success of prior attempts to rehabilitate the minor
- Circumstances and gravity of the offenses alleged to have been committed by the minor.
Importance of Transfer to Adult Court
A transfer hearing is the most important part of a juvenile case because the decision whether to transfer a case to adult court can mean the difference between a sentence to the DJF until age 23, if the case stays in juvenile court, or a life sentence including life without parole if the case is transferred to adult court.