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Almost everyone makes a mistake as a minor that they regret, but those mistakes should not define your entire life. When a minor is charged with a crime, they face very serious consequences that can leave negative consequences at such a crucial time in their life. The state of Michigan understands that minors are especially vulnerable and the law affords several diversionary programs that seek to rehabilitate minors and avoid jail time or a permanent criminal record. You need an experienced attorney like me who can fight for your minor to avoid jail time and a permanent criminal record. The sooner you contact me, the sooner we can discuss all of the options available for your minor to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
One of the most critical determinations in a juvenile offense is whether the minor is going to be charged as a minor or an adult. There are complex considerations for each scenario, and you need an experienced attorney who can fight on your behalf to ensure the juvenile offense is charged as minor and adjudicated in family court. Learn more below to see when a juvenile offense may be charged as a minor and an adult.
Juvenile Delinquency — In Michigan, it is generally called a “juvenile delinquency” when a minor under the age of 17 is accused of a crime. This means that instead of being charged as an adult and going through the typical court system, a juvenile delinquency case goes through the Family Division of the Circuit Court. Juvenile delinquency proceedings will focus on rehabilitating the minor as opposed to traditional punishment in adult cases.
Many parents fear that their child may be charged as an adult. It is important to arm yourself with the knowledge necessary to understand what circumstances will compel your minor to be charged as an adult and the case to be adjudicated in regular court. Below are the several ways in which your minor may be charged as an adult.
Traditional Waiver — If a minor is accused of committing a felony, the prosecutor may ask the Family Division of the Circuit Court to waive its jurisdiction (for juvenile delinquency proceedings) and elevate the case to traditional adult court. This decision to make the requests is up to the prosecutor, though the court makes the ultimate decision.
Prosecutor Designation — The prosecutor can elect to have a minor tried as an adult if they are accused of committing a “specified juvenile violation.” This includes serious offenses including murder, first-degree sexual conduct, and first-degree home invasion. This option differs from a traditional waiver for two reasons: first, the court cannot overrule the prosecutor’s designation. Second, the case remains in the Family Division, and therefore if the minor is found guilty, he/she may receive a juvenile disposition as opposed to a traditional adult conviction.
Court Designation — The prosecutor may request that the court charge the minor as an adult if he/she is accused of committing a non-specified juvenile violation. The court will hold a hearing to determine if the designation is in the best interests of the minor and the general public. If the court grants the designation, the case remains in the Family Division. And, like the prosecutor designation, if the minor is found guilty, he/she may receive a juvenile disposition as opposed to a traditional adult conviction.
Automatic Waiver — The prosecutor may elect to bypass the Family Court all together by filing the case in district court and proceeding as if the minor is an adult. The minor must be 14 years or older in order for the prosecutor to seek an automatic waiver. The court, however, has discretion to nevertheless charge the individual as a minor or adult, depending on the circumstances.
Most adjudicated delinquency offenses are expunged when the person turns 30. The Family Court must expunge diversion or consent calendar records within a month after the person turns 18. Life offenses, criminal traffic violations and reportable juvenile offenses are never expunged.
Juvenile offenses can be very intimidating, given the vulnerable nature of minor and the potential consequences they face. As noted above, juvenile cases can go in many different directions, and you need an experienced attorney who can navigate your options to ensure that your minor’s rights are protected and they have the chance to lead a normal life again. If you or your minor has been accused or charged with a juvenile offense, call me today for a free initial consultation.