Statistical Briefing Book > Juvenile Justice System Structure & Process Previous Page
Juveniles Tried as Adults
Q: What is the youngest age that a minor can be transferred to criminal court for trial as an adult?
A: In 2016, there were 23 States and the District of Columbia that had at least one provision for transferring minors to criminal court for which no minimum age was specified.
Note: Table information is as of the end of the 2016 legislative session.

The youngest age shown above reflects initial statutory pathways (judicial waiver, prosecutor discretion, statutory exclusion) for a minor to be tried as an adult. The minimum age shown may only apply to narrow offense categories, such as murder.
  • The youngest age a minor can be tried as an adult usually aligns with the minimum age a minor could be adjudicated delinquent and the "minimum age of criminal responsibility" found in penal codes. Case law, including common law, may also set a youngest age, depending on the state.
  • When a youngest age is not specified, legislatures may intend an age lower than a child could be adjudicated delinquent. For example, the lowest age a minor can be adjudicated delinquent is age 10 in Pennsylvania, but since murder is specifically excluded from the definition of a delinquent act, murder charges at any age would start in (adult) criminal court.
  • Most states (14) that specify a minimum age set the minimum at age 14.

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: Released on March 27, 2018.