Being arrested as a teenager is a frightening experience. Washington teens and their families often enter into the juvenile justice system with little knowledge of how it actually works. To make matters even worse, many are caught off guard when they find out it is possible to be transferred to adult court. This is called a juvenile waiver.
Understanding juvenile waivers
A juvenile waiver is when a judge in the juvenile court system decides to transfer a case to adult court. This transfer would mean that the teen offender would be tried as an adult without any of the protections typically afforded in juvenile court. Waivers can be especially troublesome for teens, as those who have been previously charged as adults are typically only charged as adults moving forward, even for lesser offenses.
When are cases moved to adult court?
It is important to understand what goes into a juvenile waiver when pushing back against the possibility of one. Judges will typically consider a number of factors involving the offense before deciding whether to move a case to adult court. These factors include things like:
- Age of the defendant
- The severity of the offense
- The situation surrounding the offense
Making mistakes are a part of youth. Despite this, some Washington teens face steep consequences for their youthful mistakes. When those consequences involve the possibility of being moved out of the juvenile justice court and into adult court, defendants and their families are often well advised to thoroughly explore all of their legal options for opposing a juvenile waiver.