Appendix: Summary of Transfer Laws|
The State-by-State summary of transfer laws contained in the appendix is based on an analysis of statutory provisions authorizing or requiring adult criminal prosecution of juveniles for serious and violent crimes in all 50 States and the District of Columbia. The summary reflects the state of the law as amended through the 1997 legislative sessions.
Lower and Upper Ages
For each State, the upper age of juvenile court jurisdiction is provided—this is the age beyond which the juvenile courts of that State have no original jurisdiction over individual offenders. In addition, if the State specifies a minimum age below which the juvenile courts have no jurisdiction for delinquency matters, that age is provided as well.
If the State has a provision that gives juvenile court judges discretion to waive jurisdiction over individual cases involving minors to allow prosecution in adult criminal courts, the provision is described under Discre-tionary Waiver. (These and all descriptive summaries of statutory provisions are matters of analysis and interpretation; readers should consult the statutes on which these summaries are based for the exact law in a given jurisdiction.) Beneath this description is a list of offense categories for which discretionary waiver may be authorized: "any criminal" for provisions that allow waiver for any criminal offense; "certain felonies" when the offense must be a felony or one of a range of felonies; "capital" when the offense must be punishable by death or life imprisonment; "murder" for any sort of homicide or attempted homicide; "person" for all other offenses against the person; "property" for property offenses; "drug" for drug offenses; and "weapon" for offenses consisting of the unlawful possession, transfer, etc., of weapons. If the State allows waiver for a particular category of offense, additional information is entered next to that category. If the State allows waiver for a category of offense, but only for offenders of a certain age, the minimum age is specified; otherwise, "none specified" is entered. (To meet a minimum age requirement, the juvenile must have reached the age specified before the offense was committed.) Under "offense detail," a more specific description of the offense that may trigger the waiver is provided, including any requirements that the accused juvenile have a prior record of delinquency adjudications or criminal convictions.
A State that requires its juvenile courts to waive cases under certain circumstances is specified under mandatory waiver. Mandatory waiver is not the same as statutory exclusion. In a mandatory waiver situation, the juvenile court must receive the case initially, conduct some sort of preliminary hearing to ensure that the mandatory waiver statute applies, and issue a transfer order and other necessary orders relating to appointment of counsel, interim detention, and so on. By contrast, when an offense has been excluded by law from juvenile court jurisdiction, the case originates in criminal court, and the juvenile court ordinarily has no involvement.
If the State designates a category of cases in which waiver to criminal court is rebuttably presumed to be appropriate, a description of the pertinent law is included under Presumptive Waiver. Again, beneath the description is a breakdown of the offense categories triggering the presumption, any minimum age and prior record requirements that apply, and other details.
If the State allows prosecutors, in certain kinds of cases, to choose between filing a petition in juvenile court and proceeding against the juvenile in criminal court, a descriptive entry is made under Direct File.
If the State simply excludes any category of cases from juvenile court jurisdiction, the provision is described under Statutory Exclusion. Reverse Waiver Provisions that permit a juvenile who is being prosecuted as an adult in criminal court to petition to have the case transferred to juvenile court for adjudication or disposition are described under Reverse Waiver.
Once an Adult/Always
If the State has a special provision that permanently terminates the juvenile court’s jurisdiction over juveniles who have once been prosecuted as adults, the provision is described under the heading Once an Adult/Always.