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Juveniled Justice System Structure & Process
Juveniles Tried as Adults
Q: Are transfer (waiver) laws the only laws that enable states to impose adult sanctions on juvenile offenders?
A: Most states have multiple ways to impose adult sanctions on offenders of juvenile age.

Provisions for imposing adult sanctions, 2015

          Judicial waiver          
 Blended sentencing 
Discretionary Presumptive Mandatory Juvenile Criminal

Number of states 47 15 14 15 29 25 36 14 21

Alabama X X X
Alaska X X X X
Arizona X X X X X

Arkansas X X X X X
California X X X X X X X
Colorado X X X X X X X

Connecticut X X X X X X
Delaware X X X X X
District of Columbia X X X X

Florida X X X X X
Georgia X X X X X
Hawaii X X

Idaho X X X X
Illinois X X X X X X X
Indiana X X X X X

Iowa X X X X X
Kansas X X X X
Kentucky X X X X

Louisiana X X X X
Maine X X X
Maryland X X X X

Massachusetts X X X
Michigan X X X X X
Minnesota X X X X X

Mississippi X X X X
Missouri X X X
Montana X X X X

Nebraska X X X X
Nevada X X X X X
New Hampshire X X X

New Jersey X X X
New Mexico X X X
New York X X

North Carolina X X X X
North Dakota X X X X
Ohio X X X X

Oklahoma X X X X X X
Oregon X X X X
Pennsylvania X X X X X

Rhode Island X X X X X
South Carolina X X X
South Dakota X X X X

Tennessee X X X
Texas X X X
Utah X X X X

Vermont X X X X X
Virginia X X X X X X
Washington X X X

West Virginia X X X
Wisconsin X X X X X
Wyoming X X X

Note: Table information is as of the end of the 2015 legislative session.
  • All States have provisions for trying certain juveniles as adults in criminal court. This is known as transfer to criminal court. There are three basic transfer mechanisms: judicial waiver, statutory exclusion, and concurrent jurisdiction.
  • In states with a combination of provisions for transferring juveniles to criminal court, the exclusion, mandatory waiver, or concurrent jurisdiction provisions generally target the oldest juveniles and/or those charged with the most serious offenses, whereas younger juveniles and/or those charged with relatively less serious offenses may be eligible for discretionary waiver.
  • Under judicial waiver provisions the juvenile court judge has the authority to waive juvenile court jurisdiction and transfer the case to criminal court.
  • With concurrent jurisdiction, original jurisdiction for certain cases is shared by both criminal and juvenile courts, and the prosecutor has discretion to file such cases in either court. This type of transfer is also known as prosecutorial waiver, prosecutor discretion, or direct file.
  • Under statutory (or legislative) exclusion provisions, State statutes exclude certain serious, violent, or repeat juvenile offenders from juvenile court jurisdiction. In most States, statutory exclusion provisions are limited by age, offense, and/or prior court history criteria.
  • Blended sentencing laws address the correctional system (juvenile or adult) in which certain offenders of juvenile age will be sanctioned. Such statutes can be placed into two general categories: juvenile court blended sentencing and criminal court blended sentencing.
  • With juvenile court blended sentencing, the juvenile court has the authority to impose adult criminal sanctions on certain juvenile offenders. The majority of such laws authorize the juvenile court to combine a juvenile disposition with a criminal sentence that is suspended. If the youth successfully completes the juvenile disposition, the criminal sanction is not imposed. If, however, the youth does not cooperate or fails in the juvenile sanctioning system, the adult criminal sanction is imposed.
  • Criminal blended sentencing provisions allow criminal courts to sentence certain transferred juveniles to sanctions otherwise available only to offenders handled in juvenile court. As with juvenile blended sentencing, the juvenile disposition may be conditional -- the suspended criminal sentence is intended to ensure good behavior. Criminal court blended sentencing gives juveniles prosecuted in criminal court one last chance at a juvenile disposition, thus mitigating the effects of transfer laws (at least in individual cases).

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/structure_process/qa04115.asp?qaDate=2015. Released on March 27, 2017.


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