A high-profile murder case that recently made the news involves a USC graduate student who died from injuries allegedly sustained during a beating and attempted robbery. So far, four people have been arrested and charged in this case, all of them teenagers. Two of the teenagers are 18 and 19; the other two are juveniles, under the age of 18.
According to California juvenile law, can these underage teenagers be tried as adults?
For certain crimes, juveniles who are at least 14 years old can be tried as adults in an adult court. Among these crimes are murder with special circumstances, or capital murder, which is what the teens in this recent case have been charged with. Prosecutors are alleging capital murder in this case because the murder took place in the course of an attempted robbery. Prosecutors will need to show that the defendants intended to commit murder and expected to receive financial gain from the victim's death. They will also need to demonstrate that the juveniles involved actually participated in the killing (which in this case appears to have involved inflicting bludgeoning wounds).
Other crimes that could get juveniles tried in adult court include various violent or forcible sexual acts, and arson that resulted in serious bodily injury (or involved setting fire to an occupied building).
In this case, will the juveniles face the death penalty?
Given that this case involves capital murder, the death penalty is on the table. However, unlike the older teens, the juveniles can't have the death penalty imposed on them. But they can be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Seeking legal representation
There are a number of different crimes for which juveniles can be tried as adults, with adult penalties. In other circumstances, they would go through the juvenile court system, which focuses more on rehabilitation but still metes out various punishments against juvenile offenders.
Regardless of the circumstances, a juvenile charged with a crime needs strong legal representation. Don't hesitate to contact our office to speak with an experienced attorney who will fight for juveniles to receive the most fair and reasonable outcome from the criminal justice system.
If your juvenile son or daughter has been arrested in Temecula, Murrieta, Hemet, Lake Elsinore, Corona or Riverside, contact us for a free consultation. We can help.