Juveniles Charged as Adults Attorneys in Fairfax, Virginia
Juvenile criminal defense lawyers in Fairfax defend children charged as adults in all Northern Virginia courts.
If You Need a Lawyer for A Child Who Is Being Charged as an Adult
You have come to the right law firm. The juvenile criminal defense attorneys at The Sprano Law Firm, LLP in Fairfax have developed specialized expertise in this unique area of law over the years.
In Virginia there are three ways in which a juvenile can be charged as an adult, or “transferred” from the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court to the Circuit Court, pursuant to Virginia Code section 16.1-269.1. The first, under Section A of the statute, is called a discretionary transfer, meaning that the Juvenile Court Judge has the discretion to either grant the prosecutor’s motion to charge the child as an adult or not. This can be used in any case in which a juvenile is charged with a felony and was at least 14 years old at the time of the alleged offense. The judge must first hold a transfer hearing, considering such factors as the nature and seriousness of the offense, any prior record, and most importantly whether there are any rehabilitative options available in the juvenile system that could still be a benefit to the juvenile. This type of transfer is very rare in Northern Virginia, especially in Fairfax, Alexandria, Loudoun and Prince William, although perhaps less so in Arlington County. Our lawyers have been able to successfully challenge such attempts by arguing that the child is still amenable to treatment and services within the juvenile court system. We believe that no child is beyond hope of rehabilitation.
The second type of transfer, under Virginia Code 16.1-269.1 (B), is called an automatic transfer, because neither the judge nor the prosecutor has any discretion. The statute simply provides that any time a juvenile over the age of 14 is charged with 1st Degree Murder or Aggravated Malicious Wounding, the juvenile court shall hold a preliminary hearing to determine probable cause for the crime, and then transfer the case to Circuit Court for trial as an adult. In cases like this, our lawyers have tried to convince the judge to let the child serve at least a portion of his or her sentence in juvenile detention, as well as keeping the total sentence as low as possible.
The third type of transfer – and by far the most common – falls under Section C of the statute and applies to all other violent crimes besides those specified in Section B (above). In cases of Robbery, Rape, Carjacking, Abduction, Malicious Wounding and 3rd of Subsequent Drug Dealing offenses, whether a teenager is treated as a juvenile or charged as an adult is left entirely up to the discretion of the prosecutor. If the prosecutor moves for transfer from the Juvenile Court to the Circuit Court, the only thing for the judge to decide is whether the defendant is at least 14 years old and whether there is at least probable cause that the crime was committed. In these cases, our attorneys will first attempt to convince the prosecutor not to charge the child as an adult. If that fails, we will defend the case to the utmost of our ability – leaving no stone unturned in our attempts to get the charges reduced or dismissed at trial. The third and final line of defense is to present a convincing argument to the judge at sentencing. Even when a child is charged as an adult by the prosecutor, it is up to the judge whether to sentence them to adult prison or juvenile detention. Our lawyers have been successful in many cases in getting the judge to keep children out of adult prison.
If your child is charged with a violent felony and faces the possibility of being charged and tried as an adult under one of these provisions, the stakes could not be higher. You need the best juvenile criminal defense attorney you can find. Our lawyers have more than three decades of combined experience defending these types of cases, and we will do everything in our power to prevent your child from being sent to adult prison.
Call us today for a free consultation to discuss what we can do to help in your child’s case.