If your child has been charged with a felony, it is possible that they could face trial in adult court and face the full repercussions of the criminal justice system. Under Ohio law, juvenile courts have the option of transferring the felony cases of juveniles at least 14 years of age through a discretionary waiver. In some situations, the juvenile court must hand over jurisdiction to adult court. This is called a mandatory transfer.
If you are worried about your son or daughter’s case being transferred to the adult justice system, contact a juvenile defense lawyer from Luftman, Heck & Associates. Our Columbus criminal defense attorneys have years of experience assisting Columbus families with legal matters, and we are prepared to help you. Call us today at 614-500-3836, or reach out through our online form to schedule a free case consultation today.
How Does a Court Perform a Discretionary Waiver?
If your child is 14 years of age or older and faces felony-level charges, the juvenile court is in a position to open discretionary waiver proceedings. To transfer the case to adult court, the juvenile court must conclude the following after a formal hearing:
- The available evidence shows that there is probable cause to believe your child committed the offense.
- There are reasons to believe your child would not benefit from rehabilitation or care in a juvenile detention center.
- Reasonable grounds to believe that the safety of the community requires your child to be placed under restraint exist.
In making a determination regarding a discretionary waiver, the court will consider the evidence contained in the case file, your child’s records, and any relevant evidence or testimony presented at the waiver hearing. There are several factors to take into account, including the nature of the felony, any aggravating factors connected with the case, and your child’s record of delinquency.
When Might a Mandatory Waiver Occur?
For some offenses, your child’s case must be transferred to adult court. The only intermediate step is a probable cause hearing. If there is probable cause to believe your child committed the following category one crimes, your son or daughter is eligible for a mandatory transfer:
- Aggravated murder
- Attempted aggravated murder
- Attempted murder
In order for a mandatory transfer for these offenses to be applicable, your child must be 16 years or older, or they must have been 14 or 15-years-old at the time of the charge, previously adjudicated as delinquent for category one or two offense, and committed to the custody of Ohio’s Department of Youth Services as a result.
Category two crimes that may be eligible for mandatory transfers to adult court include:
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Aggravated arson
- Aggravated robbery
- Aggravated burglary
- Involuntary manslaughter
- The former offense known as “felonious sexual penetration”
For these offenses move to adult court, your child must have been previously adjudicated for committing a category one or two offense and committed to the custody of the Ohio Department of Youth Services based on that finding, and/or their charge involved the use of a firearm.
If your son or daughter faces charges for multiple offenses, some might call for mandatory waivers. Others might be subject to discretionary waivers. In such situations, all offenses may be transferred to adult court. All that’s needed for transfers is the determination of probable cause.
How a Columbus Juvenile Defense Lawyer Can Help
Your child will fare better if their case is kept in juvenile court. The best way to avoid a transfer to adult court is to retain the services of an experienced Columbus criminal defense attorney, who can argue in favor of keeping the case in juvenile court. Keeping your child’s case in the juvenile justice system doesn’t just avoid the harsh penalties of a criminal conviction, it also provides your child with the best chances of rehabilitation.