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Juveniled Justice System Structure & Process
Juveniles Tried as Adults
Q: How do judicial waiver criteria vary by state?
A: Most states with judicial waiver provisions specify minimum age and offense criteria to aid the decision to transfer.

Judicial waiver offense and minimum age criteria, 2011

State Minimum
Murder Certain
Alabama 14 14
Alaska NS NS NS
Arizona NS NS
Arkansas 14 14 14 14 14 14
California 14 16 14 14 14 14 14
Colorado 12 12 12 12
Connecticut 14 14 14 14
Delaware NS NS 15 NS NS 16 16
District of Columbia NS 16 15 15 15 15 NS
Florida 14 14
Georgia 13 15 13 14 13 15
Hawaii NS 14 NS
Idaho NS 14 NS NS NS NS NS
Illinois 13 13 15 15
Indiana NS 14 NS 10 16
Iowa 14 14
Kansas 10 10 14 14 14
Kentucky 14 14 14
Louisiana 14 14 14
Maryland NS 15 NS
Michigan 14 14
Minnesota 14 14
Mississippi 13 13
Missouri 12 12
Nevada 14 14 14 16
New Hampshire 13 15 13 13 15
New Jersey 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14
North Carolina 13 13 13
North Dakota 14 16 14 14 14 14
Ohio 14 14 14 16 16
Oklahoma NS NS
Oregon NS 15 NS NS 15
Pennsylvania 14 14 14 14
Rhode Island NS NS 16 NS 17 17
South Carolina NS 16 14 NS NS 14 14
South Dakota NS NS
Tennessee NS 16 NS NS
Texas 14 14 14 14
Utah 14 14 16 16 16
Vermont 10 10 10 10
Virginia 14 14 14 14
Washington NS NS
West Virginia NS NS NS NS NS NS
Wisconsin 14 15 14 14 14 14 14
Wyoming 13 13

Note: Ages in the minimum age column may not apply to all offense restrictions, but represent the youngest possible age at which a juvenile may be judicially waived to criminal court. "NS" indicates that no minimum age is specified.

    Under juvenile court judicial waiver provisions, the matter must start in juvenile court before it can be prosecuted in (adult) criminal court. Waiver hearings vary in the degree of discretion the juvenile court judge has in making decisions about whether to waive and transfer its jurisdiction.

    Discretionary waiver – The juvenile court can waive its jurisdiction for transfer upon the judge’s own motion and/or at the request of the prosecutor.

    Presumptive waiver – There is a rebuttable presumption in favor of waiver, meaning certain allegations are deemed appropriate for (adult) criminal court prosecution in statute, but the juvenile (defense) can argue to remain under the juvenile court’s jurisdiction.

    Mandatory waiver – Statutes specify when the matter must be transferred by the juvenile court judge after verifying certain conditions are met.

    Click here to learn which states use these waiver provisions.

  • Qualifying criteria for each type is commonly bound by minimum age and alleged offense, and some states add the use of weapons and/or prior offense history. Criteria for what the judge may or must consider for the decision is generally statutory and aligns with those written in a U.S. Supreme Court opinion [Kent v. United States (383 U.S. 541, 86 S.Ct. 1045 (1966)]. Most states list child-specific and offense-specific elements, weighing violent offenses most heavily toward adult criminal prosecution. Judges must typically find that the juvenile “is not amenable to juvenile rehabilitation,” and/or that “the safety of the public requires transfer.”
  • Offense categories shown above do not encompass when there is shared jurisdiction of juvenile court and other courts over child-only violations that could be labeled a status offense like truancy or running away; and do not include law violations under the original jurisdiction of a municipal court regardless of age, such as traffic, watercraft, or hunting license violations, etc.
  • The “any criminal” category includes misdemeanors plus felonious acts when all delinquent acts apply. All other offense categories include felonious acts.
  • As of the end of the 2011 legislative session, 46 states including the District of Columbia had statutory provisions that required at least one type of juvenile court judicial waiver before a minor could be prosecuted in (adult) criminal court.

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/structure_process/qa04110.asp?qaDate=2011. Released on December 17, 2012.


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