There are numerous juveniles in California who, because of the nature of their alleged crimes, have been tried and convicted as adults. These young people are often talked to as adults by police long before it is determined whether they will face juvenile or adult court proceedings. This is believed to be a disadvantage for these minors, as they may not fully understand their rights or what is being asked of them. These young people need to know that they do have the right to access a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after being arrested.
The story of a young man who was tried and convicted as an adult has recently been reported, and it has many asking whether minors are fit to waive their rights. A 10-year-old boy was charged and convicted of shooting his father. The child and his stepmother were supposedly the victims of domestic violence; however, this did not seem to mean much in court after the minor had waived his rights to an attorney and was interrogated by police without any other adults present.
This is something that happens to hundreds of minors in California every year. Unfortunately, these youth tend to be thinking more in the moment rather than down the line when in an interrogation room. Studies have actually shown that juveniles are simply not capable of fully understanding the consequences that may follow a police interrogation. Many even end up confessing to crimes they did not commit.
Juveniles in California who are accused of serious crimes may be tried as adults. That is something that will be up to a judge to decide. Regardless of the criminal accusations, these young individuals deserve their best chance at achieving outcomes that serve their future interests. With the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, it is possible for a minor's rights to be protected and for him or her to make informed legal decisions regarding his or her case.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Boy's murder conviction sharpens debate on whether juveniles are fit to waive rights", Maura Dolan, Nov. 29, 2015