In Virginia, a juvenile can be tried as an adult under 3 circumstances. To determine if a juvenile will be tried as an adult, the court must first examine the contributing factors and seriousness of the crime in question. Being charged as an adult can have substantial and lifelong effects on a minor. Below, we explain the criteria for determining whether or not a minor will be charged as an adult.
A minor can be tried as an adult if they are age 14 or older and have committed a crime that would result in felony charges for a regular adult. In this instance, a formal request will be made to the juvenile court’s judge asking for the minor’s transfer to the circuit court. Before a minor can be transferred to the circuit court, it must first be determined that:
- Enough notice has been given for the change in circumstance
- There is probable cause for the alleged delinquent act
- The minor is competent to stand trial
In this circumstance, a minor age 14 or older can be tried as an adult at the request of the Commonwealth’s Attorney. The state attorney can use their discretion and call for a preliminary hearing to determine if there is probable cause for the crime committed. If probable cause is found, the minor can be prosecuted as an adult.
Circumstance # 3
Under this circumstance, a minor can be tried as an adult if their offense is for capital murder, first or second degree murder, lynching, or aggravated malicious wounding. For these crimes, the transfer process is automatic. The juvenile court will hold a preliminary hearing to determine probable cause. If probable cause is found, the minor will be prosecuted as an adult.