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Although the law provides several diversionary programs and judicial delinquency that allow minors to avoid criminal convictions, there are four types of proceedings that can lead to a criminal conviction for a minor:
Although each of these proceedings can lead to a criminal conviction, each has distinguishing characteristics. If you or your minor have been accused or charged with a juvenile offense, it is critical to call me to discuss the circumstances in which the prosecutor will utilize one of these proceedings to potentially criminally charge the juvenile offense.
In “automatic waiver” cases, there is no hearing or determination before the case is filed in the Criminal Division. Automatic waivers are typically reserved for “Specified Juvenile Offenses,” that typically include violent or other serious crimes.
Sentencing: the minor will be sentenced as an adult following conviction. For offenses not requiring adult sentencing, the judge may place the juvenile on probation or impose an adult sentence. If the juvenile is placed on probation, the court must review the sentence until the end of the juvenile’s probationary period to determine whether sentence should be imposed at any point during that period.
In “traditional waiver” cases, the Family Division will hold a two-part hearing to determine whether the minor will be tried and sentenced as an adult in the Criminal Division.
The court has considerable deference in the “Best Interests” hearing and will generally consider the minor’s record and the seriousness of the alleged offense. If the court waives jurisdiction, the minor will be tried, and, if convicted, sentenced as an adult. However, if the court does not waive jurisdiction, the case will remain in the Family Division.
Sentencing: If the Family Division waives jurisdiction and the minor is tried as an adult, he/she must be sentenced as an adult following conviction.
In prosecutor-designated cases, no hearing is held prior to trial to determine whether to try the minor in the Criminal Division. The Family Division judge will decide whether to sentence the minor as an adult or to impose a juvenile disposition after conviction. The judge’s decision will rely upon the best interest of the public, sentence the juvenile as an adult. The court may also delay imposition of an adult sentence.
Sentence: the Family Division judge may order a juvenile disposition, sentence the juvenile as an adult, or delay imposition of the sentence and place the juvenile on probation (commonly known as a “blended sentence”). If the juvenile is sentenced as an adult, he or she may be committed to the Department of Corrections. If the judge delays imposition of sentence, he or she enters a judgment of sentence but delays its imposition and enters a dispositional order. The court must review the juvenile’s performance during the time in which it has jurisdiction over the juvenile to determine whether sentence should be imposed at any point during that period.
In court-designated cases, a judge must hold a hearing to determine whether to try the juvenile in the Criminal Division. The Family Division judge must consider the best interests of both the juvenile and the public. Following conviction, the Family Division judge may impose a juvenile disposition or, if the judge determines that it is in the best interest of the public, sentence the juvenile as an adult. The court may also delay imposition of an adult sentence.
Sentence: The Family Division judge has the same options as in prosecutor-designated cases, except that, initially, the juvenile may not be committed to the Department of Corrections. If the judge delays imposition of sentence and the juvenile fails to comply with the terms of the dispositional order, the court may then commit the juvenile to the Department of Corrections.