How Does the Court Decide Whether or Not to Try a Child As an Adult?

Circumstances that courts consider prior to moving a juvenile case to an adult court include the age of the minor, the person's criminal record, the offense committed, prior rehabilitation efforts, and the commitment required by youth services. The majority of states mandate that a juvenile must be at least 16 years old to be tried in adult court, states Nolo.

Some states prosecute children of any age as adults in certain circumstances, most often homicide, according to Nolo. Given public perception that juvenile crime is increasing and that offenders are committing crimes at younger and younger ages, many states have lowered the minimum age required for an adult trial, as of 2015. The older a juvenile is when charged with a crime, the more likely the court is to approve of a move to adult court.

If previous attempts at rehabilitation were ineffective for a youth, a court is more likely to move the case to adult court, states Nolo. If the court determines that youth services would need to work extensively with the offender, it is more apt to move the case to adult court as well. When determining the chances of successful rehabilitation, a judge generally factors in the offender's record, background and willingness to undergo treatment.