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Juveniled Justice System Structure & Process
Juveniles Tried as Adults
Q: How do statutory exclusion provisions vary by state?
A: Statutory exclusion provisions vary considerably with respect to minimum age and offense criteria.

Statutory exclusion offense and minimum age criteria, 2015

State Minimum
age
Any
criminal
offense
Certain
felonies
Capital
crimes
Murder Certain
person
offenses
Certain
property
offenses
Certain
drug
offenses
Certain
weapon
offenses
Alabama 16 16 16 16
Alaska 16 16 16 16 16 16
Arizona 15 15 15 15 15 15
California 14 14 14
Florida NS NS 16 NS 16 16
Georgia 13 13 13 13
Idaho 14 14 14 14 14
Illinois 13 15 13 15 15
Indiana 16 16 16 16
Iowa NS NS 16 16 16
Louisiana 15 15 15
Maryland 14 14 16 16 16
Massachusetts 14 14
Minnesota 16 16
Mississippi 13 13 13
Montana 17 17 17 17 17 17
Nevada NS 16 NS 16 NS
New Mexico 15 15 15
New York 13 13 13 14 14
Oklahoma 13 13 13 13
Oregon 15 15 15 15
Pennsylvania NS NS NS
South Carolina 16 16
South Dakota 16 16
Utah 16 16 16 16 16 16
Vermont 14 14 14 14 14
Washington 16 16 16 16
Wisconsin 10 10 10

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 statutorily excluded from juvenile court. "NS" indicates that no minimum age is specified.

  • Under statutory exclusion provisions, legislatures decide when juveniles must be tried as adults by passing laws that automatically “transfer” jurisdiction to criminal court. Prosecutors retain some control, however, by deciding which charges to pursue; and for some states, prosecutors initiate and lead grand juries that can make other decisions.
  • Statutory exclusion provisions differ from judicial mandatory waivers in that no juvenile court hearing is required before the prosecutor must charge the qualifying minor in (adult) criminal court.
  • Some states excluded only a few alleged offenses committed by youth of at least a certain age, while other states had no youngest age identified for some offenses, and/or specified multiple sets of exclusions with varying minimum age, offense, and other conditions.
  • States most often excluded violent “person” crimes, such as murder or rape, and other crimes with long potential sentences, such as arson. Some excluded categories are bound to other conditions, such as the minor’s prior offense history or use of a weapon. For example, kidnapping allegations may be completely excluded if committed by a 16 year old, but only excluded for a 15-year-old if a weapon was used during the criminal episode.
  • As of the end of the 2015 legislative session, 29 states had statutory exclusion provisions.
  • Although not a transfer exclusion, large numbers of youth younger than 18 were automatically tried in criminal court in states where the upper age of juvenile court jurisdiction is set at 15 or 16.
  • Offense categories compared above do not encompass: excluded child-only (status offense) violations like truancy or running away; law violations under the exclusive jurisdiction of a municipal court regardless of age, such as traffic, watercraft, or hunting license violations, etc.; or once an adult, always an adult provisions that exclude minors from juvenile court jurisdiction due to previous (adult) criminal convictions or sanctions.
  • The “any criminal” category includes misdemeanors plus felonious acts when all delinquent acts apply. All other offense categories include felonious acts.

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/structure_process/qa04112.asp?qaDate=2015. Released on March 27, 2017.

 

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