Las Vegas Juvenile Crimes Defense Attorney
Nevada has a separate juvenile court system for cases where minors under 18 are charged with “delinquent,” meaning criminal, conduct. In Nevada, however, juveniles may be tried as adults in criminal court under certain circumstances.
When a juvenile is tried as an adult, they face the same processes and potential consequences as adults charged with those crimes. While juveniles cannot be imprisoned along with adults, they face the same sentences and will be transferred to adult prisons when they turn 18. Accordingly, it is essential that a juvenile facing certification as an adult be represented by a skilled and passionate criminal defense attorney who will vigorously fight for their rights.
Adrian Marie Lobo has more than 10 years of experience defending against criminal charges Las Vegas and will make sure that your child gets the zealous legal advocacy they deserve.
When Can a Minor Be Charged as an Adult in Las Vegas?
Under Nevada law, minors of a certain age can be prosecuted through adult criminal court if they are charged with the commission of certain serious felonies. With some limited exceptions, juveniles aged 16 or 17 will be “certified” as adults if they are charged with:
- Gun crimes
- Attempted murder
In those cases, the court will treat the minor as an adult without the prosecutor or court having to request certification or make any additional determinations. On the other hand, the juvenile court has the discretion to transfer other cases to criminal court if:
- The minor was at least 14 years old at the time of the alleged offense; and
- The offense would have been a felony if it had been committed by an adult
In those instances, the District Attorney may file a motion with the court to transfer the case to criminal court. The judge will then make a determination about whether to certify the case based on the facts and circumstances of the case and the nature of the defendant. Additionally, if a juvenile aged 14 or older is detained in a juvenile facility for a felony and escapes or attempts escape, the court may certify the escape case to criminal court even though the juvenile was not previously treated as an adult. A juvenile court may also certify a case to criminal court if the minor is aged 13, 14, or 15 and is charged with either murder or attempted murder.
Moreover, any juvenile who has been previously convicted as an adult will automatically be treated as an adult for any future offense.
What Penalties Can a Minor Certified as an Adult Face?
If a minor has been certified as an adult based on the alleged commission of a felony, they are treated as an adult for essentially all purposes. They face the same processes and procedures as an adult, including imprisonment in a state prison, although they will be housed in separate facilities from adult inmates until they turn 18. With limited exceptions, they are subject to the same penalties as adults for the same crimes, although their age and the possibility of rehabilitation should factor in to their sentencing.
There are certain federal constitutional limits on punishments for juveniles, based on Supreme Court cases. Juveniles cannot face the death penalty, and for non-homicide offenses, juveniles cannot be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Even for homicide, juveniles cannot be subject to mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole, and for homicide cases where parole is a possibility, the courts must take the juvenile’s age into account in determining whether the possibility of parole is warranted.
Additionally, the mandatory minimum sentence for certain crimes may be reduced if the defendant was under 18 at the time the offense was committed. The court can reduce the term of imprisonment by up to 35 percent if the court determines that it is appropriate, based on the nature of the crime, the age of the defendant at the time of commission and conviction, and the likelihood of rehabilitation.
Get Skilled Legal Help for Juvenile Criminal Matters in Las Vegas
A criminal conviction can permanently derail the life of a child. If your child or a juvenile you know has been arrested and faces certification as an adult, it is essential that you contact a dedicated and compassionate Las Vegas Criminal Defense attorney to get the best and most reasonable result possible. Contact Lobo Law today at 702-290-8998 to schedule a consultation.