When is a Juvenile Charged as an Adult in Michigan? Why kids end up in adult criminal court?

KD Law Group |
12/02/2022

The “Raise the Age” legislation went into effect on October 2021. Before that, anyone aged 17 and above was automatically charged as an adult for any offense. Right now, the age has been raised to 18 or older before an adult criminal charge is made compulsory.

Michigan is keen on rehabilitating minors involved in juvenile crimes and not slapping them with harsh penalties. Nonetheless, it’s still possible for juvenile offenders under 18 to face adult criminal proceedings. With the help of an experienced Bloomfield Hills criminal defense lawyer, you significantly increase the chances for your son or daughter to get a favorable outcome.

Which Offenses Are Minors Automatically Charged as Adults?

There are two situations in which a juvenile in Michigan can be treated and charged as an adult:

  • Waiver cases: the family court waives its regular juvenile jurisdiction to the adult court or circuit court
  • Designated cases: case proceeds in the family court but under adult-like conditions/procedures

Under Michigan law, the juvenile court may give over the case to an adult criminal justice system if a minor is 14 -18 years old and is accused of an offense that qualifies as a felony. These cases include:

  • Assault with intent to rob
  • Assault with intent to maim
  • Assault with intent to murder
  • Kidnapping
  • Armed robbery
  • First and second degree murder
  • First degree criminal sexual conduct
  • Attempted murder
  • Drug trafficking
  • Home invasion
  • Bank robbery
  • Possession of large amounts of drugs
  • Carjacking
  • First degree arson
  • Bank, vault, safe robbery
  • An attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy to commit any of the above crimes

Under automatic waiver proceedings, the juvenile will be charged, tried, and punished as an adult. The minor will also have to deal with a permanent felony charge criminal record. You can defend these charges and possibly earn a juvenile sentence with the help of a skilled Bloomfield Hills juvenile crimes defense attorney.

Adult Court Vs. Juvenile Court. What’s The Difference?

The outcome of a case greatly depends on whether the juvenile is tried as an adult or a juvenile. If you have an option, in most cases the best options are in juvenile court, especially if it is an assaultive crime.

Juvenile Court

Juvenile courts have hearings before referees, judges and juries. The goal of Juvenile Court is rehabilitation. There will be an investigation into a young person’s education, personal, family and community history to determine what the child needs to prevent criminal misconduct in the future. This may require parents, siblings etc to participate in services or therapy. Any form of conviction is often detrimental. A conviction or finding of delinquency can still haunt you for years. It’s best to fight these charges using the guidance of an experienced juvenile defense lawyer in Michigan.

Adult Court

Someone facing charges as an adult will face the trial by jury. These cases are done in open court, and the records are made available to the public. The charges are brought by way of a complaint and a conviction may lead to jail time and significant fines.

Can The Prosecutors Request a Minor Be Charged as an Adult?

Even if the minor’s case doesn’t meet the requirements for an automatic waiver, the prosecutors may request the court to waive jurisdiction and charge the minor as an adult.

The court will have to consider several factors before deciding on the request. Some of these factors include:

  • Nature of the offense and any aggravating factors
  • Juvenile’s prior criminal record
  • Past willingness to go through juvenile rehabilitation programs
  • Case outcomes available to the minor

Your defense team will have to counter the prosecution and convince the court why the juvenile system should handle the case. Since the waiver hearing is a critical step, work with a knowledgeable and aggressive juvenile crimes defense attorney in Michigan who may help you avoid a stiffer adult court system.

How Best Do I Navigate My Child’s Juvenile Criminal Offense Case in Michigan?

When navigating the juvenile justice system, it needs specific knowledge that comes from experience in practicing juvenile criminal defense law. When faced with so many outcomes, you should not risk your child’s future in the hands of any type of defense lawyer. You need to work with a local legal firm with proven results in juvenile criminal defense cases.

You will need an experienced juvenile criminal defense lawyer who will convince the court to allow the case to proceed as a juvenile case. This is often an important step that will determine how the case will be concluded.

How Can a Lawyer Help?

Even if the court decides to push the case into the adult criminal justice system, it will not go to trial directly but will have to pass through a preliminary hearing. Here, the court will determine probable cause and find out whether the prosecution’s evidence shows that there’s reason to believe the minor committed the offense. This is yet another stage where your Bloomfield Hills juvenile crimes defense lawyer can offer assistance.

As a family, you may be going through a lot of stress when potential adult sentencing is hovering above your child’s life. Contact a skilled juvenile defense lawyer immediately if you are under 18 years old and have been charged or your child has been accused of a crime.

Strategic Legal Approach for Juvenile Criminal Cases in Michigan

A conviction in a criminal court bears lifelong consequences. The penalties are harsher if a minor is charged as an adult. A conviction can take away your child’s freedom, ruining their reputation and future. You can count on the skills of a Bloomfield Hills criminal defense lawyer to fight on your behalf.

Our law firm represents juveniles in Michigan facing different types of crimes. Second chances are possible, and we are dedicated to ensuring your child’s best interests are secured. Get in touch with us today for experienced and dedicated representation.

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