The first step in almost any successful criminal defense is forming an understanding of the relevant systems and procedures.
This is how the attorneys are able to give the best possible advice once they know the details of a given case. It is especially important to understand the system when it is as complex as the juvenile court in Georgia.
One of the most typically confusing elements of the system is jurisdiction.
It is not always certain ahead of time — not certain based on age, at least — whether a child will face trial in the juvenile or superior courts.
There are some relative certainties, however. Georgia is one of five states that sets the maximum age limit for juvenile court at 16, whereas the other 45 states place the age limit at 17.
However, not every defendant 16 years of age or younger will automatically have a trial in the juvenile system. The rules for what happens to defendants under 16 who have committed serious crimes are somewhat complicated.
In some cases, prosecutors have discretion on whether to refer the case to the superior court. In others, the higher court automatically has jurisdiction.
The rules governing this are known as transfer laws. There are four situations in which a child could be transferred to a higher court in Georgia.
The first two are possible after a hearing:
- When the juvenile court decides it is necessary for the child and the community
- When certain offenses are involved
The second two depend on statutory requirements:
- For most crimes in which the punishment is loss of life or life imprisonment, at any age
- For certain crimes, such as murder
The higher court may also re-transfer a young person back to juvenile courts when necessary.
Contact Frye Law Group today
Of course, these notes are simply an outline of rules and procedures. Each situation is different and requires case-specific interpretation. That’s why you need to hire an experienced juvenile defense attorney if you or your child is facing a criminal charge. Contact our legal team at Frye Law Group today to get started on your child’s defense.