Thank you for using Just Answer. I look forward to assisting you.
I'm sorry to hear about your son's circumstances.
If the prosecutor wants to charge a minor as an adult, whether or not the minor can remain in juvenile court comes down to what a judge decides during the minor's fitness hearing. If the judge decides that the minor is "fit" for the juvenile system, the minor stays in juvenile court. If not, the minor gets transferred to adult court.
A minor tried in adult court potentially faces the prospect of a lengthy sentence in adult prison with adult offenders. At worst, a minor adjudicated within the juvenile system faces commitment to the California Youth Authority until the age of 25.
In determining whether a minor is fit for juvenile court, the judge will evaluate the following five factors:
- The degree of criminal sophistication exhibited by the minor.
- Whether the minor can be rehabilitated prior to the expiration of the juvenile court's jurisdiction.
- The minor's previous delinquent history.
- Success of previous attempts by the juvenile court to rehabilitate the minor.
- The circumstances and gravity of the offense alleged in the petition to have been committed by the minor.
The judge is allowed to consider extenuating or mitigating factors in making its evaluation.
When the minor is presumed to be unfit, in order to stay in juvenile court the minor must prove his or her amenability to juvenile treatment under each of the five criteria.
As to what you can do to help him? It's going to sound like a cliche answer, but the best thing you can do for your son is to get him a skilled criminal defense attorney who has handled juvenile cases. There is really nothing you or anyone else can personally do to ensure his case doesn't end up in adult court , because ultimately, it's up to the court to decide based on those factors enumerated above. He needs a lawyer to raise extenuating/mitigating factors wherever possible and prove that juvenile treatment is what is best.
For example, a prosecutor might argue that your son is close to 18 year old, and therefore the matter should be transferred to adult court. But perhaps there is a mitigating factor that emotionally, he's younger than that, and often acts younger then his age in his behaviors (perhaps a therapist could even evaluate him beforehand) and is he susceptible to outside influence of older people because he is too trustworthy. Or, perhaps the crime he is accused of is extremely serious, but the mitigating factor is that your son played a minor role (e.g., he was the getaway driver in a robbery on what he thought was an empty house, and had no idea that people inside were assaulted). An attorney can also point out other factors to the court as to why his case shouldn't be transferred - perhaps he has no prior record, or if he does, perhaps the prior(s) were for minor crimes, and he has stayed out of trouble for an extended period.
If you need clarification or additional information, please reply, and I'll be happy to assist you further. Thank you.