When are Juveniles Tried as Adults in Arizona?


Juvenile offenders are typically sent to juvenile court for the crimes they commit. Society sees a juvenile as a child who has not developed enough to understand the consequences of his or her actions.

However, there does come a point when a juvenile will be treated like an adult; when juvenile offenders commit heinous crimes, they must take full responsibility regardless if they understood the long-term consequences before breaking the law.

Juveniles Tried as Adults in Arizona

Arizona has guidelines in place to determine what crimes a juvenile must commit in order to be tried in an adult courtroom. In addition to the crime, the juvenile must be of a certain age to be tried as an adult.

A.R.S. 13-501 states that a juvenile needs to be between 14 and 17 years old and commit one of the following crimes:

  1. First degree murder
  2. Second degree murder
  3. Forcible sexual assault
  4. Armed robbery
  5. Any other violent felony offense
  6. Any felony offense committed by a chronic felony offender

Some of the crimes listed above are very broad and can include a number of different offenses.

Multiple Felony Offenders in Arizona

A chronic felony offender is someone who has committed at least two felony offenses in the past. Any other violent felony offense refers to the following crimes:

  1. Aggravated assault
  2. Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
  3. Drive-by shooting
  4. Discharging a firearm at a structure

When a juvenile is tried and convicted as an adult, they will face the same sentencing guidelines as offenders who are 18 or older. There is only one offense where a juvenile will not receive the same sentence as an adult, and that is if the juvenile is convicted of first degree murder.

A.R.S. 13-752 states that if a person is under the age of 18 at the time of the offense, that individual cannot receive the death penalty. Instead, the court will determine whether to impose a life sentence or a natural life sentence.

Natural life and life in prison might sound like the same sentence, but they have some big differences. When a court sentences someone to life in prison, it means that the person will be eligible for parole after serving 25 years of the life sentence.

A natural life sentences means the person will be in prison until the day that they die.

Transferring a Case to Juvenile Court

If the prosecution has chosen to try a juvenile as an adult, the juvenile or court can file a motion to transfer the case to a juvenile court if there is enough evidence to support that public safety and the rehabilitation of the juvenile will be better served by transferring the juvenile offender to a juvenile court. There are a number of factors that the court will consider before transferring a case to juvenile court. These factors include:

  1. The seriousness of the offense.
  2. The record and previous history of the juvenile.
  3. Any previous commitments to juvenile residential placements or secure institutions.
  4. Whether the juvenile was previously sent to the department of juvenile corrections for a felony offense.
  5. Whether the juvenile committed the offense while participating in or promoting a criminal street gang.
  6. The views of the victim on the offense.
  7. The juvenile’s mental and emotional condition.

Get the Legal Defense Your Child Deserves

No parent wants to see their children get into trouble, and it can be especially devastating to see your child tried as an adult for their crime.

The juvenile crime lawyers at JacksonWhite believe that children make mistakes and deserve a second chance.

Let the skilled and experienced juvenile attorneys at JacksonWhite help protect the rights and future of your child. We take every effort to get you the legal defense and fresh start you deserve.

Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.

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