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Can a juvenile sex offender go to adult court?

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Juvenile sex offenders are individuals under the age of 18 convicted of a sex crime. In Virginia, the juvenile justice system manages these cases differently than adult sex offenders, focusing more on restoration and less on punishment.

Juvenile or adult court: 3 factors a judge may consider

While minors typically go through juvenile court which aims to rehabilitate offenders, there are severe cases where a juvenile sex offender may go to adult court. The following factors can influence whether a minor’s case stays in juvenile court or not:

  • The severity of the crime: Certain severe or violent crimes such as murder, rape, forcible sodomy or aggravated sexual battery may increase the chances of moving the case to adult court.
  • The minor’s previous criminal history: If the minor has a history of delinquent behavior or prior convictions, they may be more likely to face adult court.
  • The minor’s mental maturity: The court may consider the minor’s mental maturity and ability to understand the consequences of their actions.

The decision to try a minor as an adult is through “transfer” or “certification.” This is where a court judge determines whether the case will stay in juvenile court or move to adult court.

Chance of a better future

The primary goal of juvenile court is to help juvenile offenders understand the consequences of their actions and learn how to make better decisions in the future. It also provides access to specialized services such as therapy counseling and vocational training to help young offenders get back on track.

The juvenile court also protects the juvenile offender’s privacy, which can reduce negative long-term effects on their future opportunities.