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When can a juvenile be tried as an adult in Alabama?

In Alabama, a juvenile 14 or more years of age may be tried as an adult under certain circumstances dictated by state code. Being tried as an adult is a serious matter, for the potential consequences that an individual may face if convicted are conspicuously more severe.

There is an established set of factors that an Alabama court may consider when deciding whether to try an accused minor as an adult. For example, the court must assess the nature the offense that was committed as well as its severity. Moreover, the court might take into consideration whether the accused individual has a criminal record, and the court may not disregard the interests of the community when making its determination.

The physical and mental maturity of the accused minor may, according to the law, factor into the court’s decision. If the court does in fact decide to try the individual as an adult, the reasons for this decision and the finding of probable cause must be present and articulated.

There are certain instances where a juvenile may not be tried as an adult, even if the juvenile’s alleged offense is one typically committed by adults. For example, individuals must be at least 14 years of age at the time the alleged offense was committed. Moreover, the court must pursue other options if there is significant reason to believe that the accused individual is mentally ill or mentally retarded.

Once a juvenile is tried as an adult, that individual may be tried as an adult for any subsequent offenses of which the individual is accused. For this reason alone, it is crucial for accused minors to retain a criminal defense attorney who employs strategies and resources to keep the case in juvenile court. At any rate, the attorney, unlike this blog post, may be a source for counsel that is detailed and germane to the juvenile’s case.

Source: FindLaw, “ALA CODE § 12-15-34“, October 30, 2014

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