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When do the California courts pursue adult charges against teens?

On Behalf of | Aug 11, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Young adults, especially teenagers, tend to think of themselves as more mature and capable than they truly are. Their brains are still growing and developing, and as a result, they lack the ability to understand their own immaturity. For example, teenagers and young adults often struggle with considering the long-term consequences of their decisions and may act far more impulsively than adults.

A choice made in the heat of the moment with very little contemplation, as many adults are all too aware, can potentially affect a young adult for the rest of their life. For example, sometimes young adults do things that lead to injuries, like speeding in a vehicle while being distracted by their passengers. Other times, they may break the law by getting into a fight or stealing from a business. Those criminal choices can sometimes have lifelong consequences. In California, as elsewhere in the United States, sometimes the criminal courts pursue adult criminal charges against youthful offenders, which can make a consequential situation all the more dire.

There are specific rules about adult prosecution

California has a law on the books that the courts have upheld prohibiting the prosecution of 14 and 15-year-olds as adults. However, older teenagers could very well find themselves facing adult criminal charges for a mistake made as a juvenile. Those who are 16 or 17 could end up in adult criminal court.

More serious offenses are more likely to lead to adult criminal proceedings. State rules specifically treat violent offenses as offenses that may justify prosecution as an adult. The greater the impact of one young adult’s actions on others, the more likely the state is to pursue adult charges against that youthful defendant. Obviously, adult charges can result in adult penalties, possibly including incarceration in an adult facility. Additionally, adult charges are much more difficult for someone to seal or expunge after they learn from their mistake and improve their life.

Parents of young adults facing criminal charges in California may want to help them as they prepare to defend against their charges so that they can have a better chance at avoiding the worst-case consequences possible. Knowing how the law influences the way that the courts handle a young adult’s case may benefit parents hoping to support a teenager who has been recently arrested for a criminal infraction.

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