For crimes committed by juveniles in the state of Georgia, a common question is: at what age can you be tried as an adult in Georgia? The answer isn’t a simple one, since many factors go into whether a young person is tried as an adult. Let’s go into a few of the particulars here.
In most cases when a juvenile commits a crime, it’s advantageous to the young person if he/she is tried as a juvenile, not just because the penalties are less severe, but also because juvenile conviction records are considered confidential and won’t be used against the child when he/she begins functioning as an adult in the real world. In the majority of cases, this is exactly what happens. However, under certain circumstances, depending on the severity of the crime and/or the child’s previous record, the courts in Georgia may deem it appropriate to try the juvenile as an adult. Here are some examples of when this may happen:
- Any child age 17 and over is considered an adult under Georgia law. However, if the juvenile commits the crime on the last day of his/her 16th year, he/she may be treated as an adult, no matter how minor the offense.
- If the minor is over the age of 13 and is charged with certain violent crimes (e.g., rape, aggravated sexual assault, murder, voluntary manslaughter, armed robbery), the minor is considered an adult and will be tried as such, unless the court deems it appropriate to transfer the case down to juvenile court.
- If the crime allegedly committed by a minor age 13 and over carries a possible penalty of death or life without parole, the minor must be tried as an adult.
- If the minor is 14 or older, currently in juvenile custody, and allegedly commits murder, voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault or aggravated battery, the juvenile must be tried as an adult. Likewise, if a minor 15 or older has been convicted of three burglaries and has been charged with a fourth, he/she will automatically be tried as an adult for the fourth offense.
- Under certain circumstances, a juvenile court has the authority to determine that a minor 15 or older should be transferred to the adult courts.
What does all this mean? It means that while the juvenile court system in Georgia is intended to protect the futures of young people who get into trouble, there are enough exceptions to the rule that if you’re a minor and you commit a crime, you shouldn’t automatically expect that you’ll be tried as a juvenile. There are many instances when a minor can be tried as an adult in Georgia. For expert advice on matters such as these, call the Federal Criminal Law Center at 404-633-3797.