In all States, juveniles can be transferred to criminal court -- most have multiple transfer mechanisms
Transferring juveniles to criminal court is not a new phenomenon
In ten States provisions that enabled juveniles to be transferred to criminal court were in place before the 1920's. Another ten States have permitted transfers since at least the 1940's. For many years, all States have had provisions for trying certain youth of juvenile age as adults in criminal court. Transfer provisions fall into three general categories:
Transfer mechanisms are typically limited by age and offense criteria. Judicial waiver provisions are also limited to juveniles who are "no longer amenable to treatment." Such "amenability" criteria are generally not included in exclusion or concurrent jurisdiction provisions.
Many States made changes to the boundaries of juvenile court jurisdiction
Traditionally, judicial waiver was the transfer mechanism on which most States relied. Beginning in the 1970's and continuing through the present, an increasing number of State legislatures have enacted exclusion statutes. Less common, then and now, are concurrent jurisdiction provisions.
From 1992 through 1995, all but 10 States enacted or expanded provisions for transferring juveniles from juvenile court jurisdiction to criminal court for prosecution.
Most States have a combination of transfer provisions
As of year-end 1996, few States relied on just one mechanism for transferring to criminal court those youthful offenders deemed inappropriate for juvenile court processing. In States with a combination of transfer mechanisms, the exclusion and/or concurrent jurisdiction provisions generally target the oldest juveniles or those charged with the most serious offenses, while the relatively less serious or younger juveniles may be eligible for judicial waiver. Judicial waiver combined with legislative exclusion provisions was the most common arrangement (27 States).
Waiver and exclusion
Judicial waiver only
Waiver and concurrent jurisdiction
All three mechanisms
Legislative exclusion only
Concurrent jurisdiction only
Source: Authors' adaptation of P. Torbet's State responses to serious and violent juvenile crime and L. Szymanski's Prosecuting juveniles as criminals.
Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 1997 Update on Violence