At what age can someone be tried as an adult?

If your child has committed a crime in the state of Nevada, it’s important to get professional legal help right away. Depending on the circumstances of the crime, the child can be tried as either a juvenile or an adult. When tried as an adult, minors can be subjected to public trials and harsher sentencing guidelines. If you want to learn more about being tried as an adult in Nevada, keep reading.

When Can Someone Be Tried as an Adult in Nevada?

Las Vegas Courthouse

In the state of Nevada, children are tried in the juvenile court when their actions constitute a “delinquent act.” These acts are crimes that the law does not recognize as severe enough to warrant trial as an adult. If the crime is too serious to be considered a delinquent act, then the court may certify the minor as an adult and they will be tried accordingly. When deciding if the circumstances of a case qualify as a delinquent act under Nevada law, there are two main guidelines.

The first way to certify if a minor can stand trial as an adult is with the mandatory certification. Under this law, the court must try the defendant as an adult if they are ages 16, 17, or 18 and their crime is either sexual assault through the use of violence or the threat of violence involving a firearm. If the minor’s crime matches one of these qualifications, then they must face trial as an adult.

Discretionary certification is also available to the court if it deems the crime severe enough. To qualify under the discretionary certification, the youth must be 14 years or older and charged with an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult. Discretionary certification is also available when the defendant is 13 years or older and charged with either murder or attempted murder. In these situations, it’s up to the court to decide if the facts of the case warrant trying the minor as an adult.

What Does It Mean To Be Tried as an Adult?

Trial as an adult is a serious escalation from juvenile trials. When the court decides to try someone as an adult, they certify that the defendant’s actions represent an inability to be effectively rehabilitated by the juvenile system. Being tried as an adult removes the protections offered by the juvenile court system. Juvenile courts protect defendants’ privacy by keeping trials anonymous. These courts are not public, and they do not release any identifying information about the defendant.

The sentencing guidelines for adult trials are also much harsher than the juvenile system, which focuses more on rehabilitation. Juvenile courts issue shorter sentences and seal the defendant’s records after they come of age. The maximum prison sentence in juvenile court is two years. When tried as an adult, minors in the state of Nevada can face life in prison. While the maximum sentence for minors who are tried as adults is much more severe, recent revisions in the law have stipulated that juveniles cannot be sentenced to life without parole.

At What Age Can You Be Tried as an Adult?

The minimum age requirement to be certified as an adult varies from state to state. In the state of Nevada, the youngest age that which someone can be tried as an adult is 13 years old. For a 13-year-old to be tried as an adult in a Nevada court, they must be charged with homicide or attempted homicide. Even when the facts of the case qualify for this certification, however, it’s ultimately up to the discretion of the court to decide if an adult trial is necessary.

The maximum age for someone to be tried in juvenile court is 17 years old. After reaching the age of 18, all defendants must be tried by a regular court. While defendants over the age of 17 cannot be tried in juvenile court, the sentences issued by these courts can extend until the defendant is 21 years old. This means that if someone committed crimes as a minor, they can remain in prison or on probation until they are 21.

What Leads to a Minor Being Tried as an Adult?

The exact circumstances that lead to a minor being tried as an adult can vary from state to state. When the court is deciding if the minor should be tried as an adult, the key thing for the court to consider is whether or not the juvenile system would successfully rehabilitate them. If the court decides that the circumstances of the crime are too egregious to warrant rehabilitation, it can decide to move forward with the adult certification.

Other than the mandatory and discretionary certifications, there are other ways for a minor to qualify for an adult trial. If the child has an extensive criminal history, then the court may use this information when deciding whether rehabilitation would be effective. The minor’s mental state is also taken into consideration. If they understand the serious nature and consequences of their crime, then they might be eligible for adult certification.

Juveniles charged with two separate crimes under the same facts will face an adult trial for both of them, even if only one charge qualifies. For example, if a minor commits both a misdemeanor and a felony simultaneously, then the felony can qualify them for adult trial. If the court certifies them as an adult, they will be tried as an adult on both charges. The “once an adult, always” rule also stipulates that once someone has been tried as an adult once, they must be tried as an adult for every subsequent offense.

This is just a brief overview of how adult certification works in the Nevada court system. If you want to know whether the facts of your case qualify for adult certification under any of these guidelines, contact one of the legal professionals at De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers and we’ll be happy to assist you.