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You often read or hear on the news about stories of young children being sentenced as adults. When many people see these compelling stories they ask themselves how can the court treat this child as an adult. You hear the parents of the child saying, “he is only a kid.”

When an adult individual commits an act which violates the law that person is said to have committed a “crime”. When a child commits an act which violates the law it is defined as a “deliquent act”. The state of Pennsylvania imposes these different terms to make a distinction between acts which are commited by children and those committed by adults. However, in the state of Pennsylvania, it is possible for a minor child to be charged as an adult and convicted of a “crime”.

When can a juvenile be charged as an adult in Pennsylvania?

The simple explanation is that a case can be either sent straight to the adult system (direct file) or the case can be transferred from the juvenile system. Below is an outline of the different ways in which a child can end up in the adult system.

Child Always Charged as an Adult: (Statutory Exclusion)

  1. Murder
  2. If the child was 15 years of age or older and used a deadly weapon in the commission of any of the following crimes:
    • Rape
    • Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse
    • Aggravated assault
    • Robbery
    • Robbery of a motor vehicle
    • Aggravated indecent assault
    • Kidnapping
    • Voluntary Manslaughter
    • Attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit any of the above offenses

Child Can be Charged as an Adult: (Discretionary Waiver)

  1. The child was 14 years of age or older;
  2. it is more likely than not that the child committed the alleged act;
  3. the act would be considered a felony if commited by an adult; and
  4. there are reasonable grounds to believe the public interest is served by the transfer.

Child Likely Charged as an Adult: (Presumptive Waiver)

  1. The child was 14 years of age or older and used a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony or;
  2. the child was 15 years of age or older and commited any of the crimes listed below:
    • Rape
    • Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse
    • Aggravated assault
    • Robbery
    • Robbery of a motor vehicle
    • Aggravated indecent assault
    • Kidnapping
    • Voluntary Manslaughter
    • Attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit any of the above offenses

If your child has been charged with a crime as an adult, or if you believe your child may be charged as an adult, then it is time to contact a lawyer. For a free consultation in Delaware County, Chester County, or the Philadelphia area, call The Law Offices of Robert L. Schwarz at 610-744-2500. There may be a way to prevent your child from being charged as an adult.