In general, when a juvenile in Utah is accused of committing a crime, his or her case may be handled by the state’s Juvenile Court system. This is to give the juvenile a chance at rehabilitation. After all, a juvenile has their entire life ahead of them, and should not have his or her entire future tarnished due to unfounded accusations or youthful mistakes. However, there are circumstances in which a juvenile in Utah may be tried as an adult.
First of all, if the juvenile is of the ages 16 or 17, and is facing accusations of murder, that juvenile will automatically be tried in adult court. In addition, a juvenile’s case will automatically be sent to adult court if the juvenile is of the ages 16 or 17, the juvenile has already received a sentence that places him or her in a secure facility and then the juvenile is accused of committing an additional felony crime.
Moreover, if a juvenile is of the ages 16 or 17 and is facing accusations of one of 10 certain felonious crimes against another individual, then that juvenile will initially go before the Juvenile Court, but as an adult. In this situation, the accused’s case may then be remanded to adult court. The exception to this is if the judge hearing the case in Juvenile Court determines that there is a compelling argument presented by the accused not to remand the case to adult court, but to keep it in the Juvenile Court system. Finally, if a juvenile is age 14 or above and is facing charges of a felonious crime, that juvenile’s case may be sent to adult court if the judge in the juvenile court determines, based on the arguments presented by the prosecution, that it is in Utah’s best interests for the juvenile’s case to be sent to adult court.
Determining whether a juvenile’s case should be heard in adult court is a serious matter. Since this post cannot replace the advice of a juvenile defense attorney, juveniles who are facing criminal charges and are concerned that they may be tried as an adult should seek legal help.
Source: UTCourts.gov, “Utah’s Juvenile Courts,” Accessed Nov. 2, 2015