Can a Child Be Charged with a Crime in Connecticut?

Thousands of children a year are accused of crimes in Connecticut. In this post, you’ll learn about the different penalties for crime that juveniles face, and whether a child can be charged with a felony in Connecticut. If your child has been charged with a crime, contact a Hartford County juvenile crime defense lawyer right away.

How Are Children Charged with a Crime by Connecticut? The Process

Connecticut children are subject to the same laws as adults, but usually face lesser penalties. A portion of juvenile crime doesn’t even come before a judge.

Non-judicial cases involve less severe cases and are handled outside of a courtroom. Juvenile probation officers, instead of judges, oversee these cases. They have the authority to later dismiss the case, to place the child in non-judicial supervision for up to 180 days, and to recommend transferring the case to judicial handling. Judicial cases will deal with more serious offenses, such as those involving drug trafficking and firearms.

The Superior Court for Juvenile Matters has jurisdiction over Connecticut children charged with a crime. There will first be an adjudicatory hearing, where the court will decide if the child is guilty. That in turn is followed by the dispositional hearing, where the court decides on sentencing.

In some cases, children may be charged as adults, depending on the severity of the crime and the age of the child. Regarding age, no child younger than 14 will be charged as an adult, but above age 14, the nature of the crime could lead to the child being tried as an adult.

Connecticut law classifies felony crimes on a scale of A to E for purposes of sentencing. Class A felonies carry the heaviest potential fines, with up to $20,000 and 25 years to life in prison. Kidnapping, home invasion, and human trafficking are all Class A felonies. At the other end, Class E felonies have possible prison terms of up to 3 years and possible fines of up to $3,500. Examples are someone’s first offense of grand theft auto or extortion by ransomware.

Children 15 and older are transferred to an adult court when charged with Class A and B felonies. If a child has been charged with a Class C or D felony, a Juvenile Matters Judge may decide to send that child to the adult court. However, the child may be transferred back into the juvenile system, at the discretion of the adult court judge.

Once the child is transferred to adult court, the judge must decide if the child qualifies as a youthful offender. Youthful offenders are a kind of hybrid case between juvenile and criminal (adult) offenders. Youthful offender cases are harsher than juvenile cases in that they are held in criminal court and may result in prison sentences of up to four years. However, these cases are more lenient than criminal cases in that youth offenders may not have their statements used against them and may later have their records erased.

What Can I Do if My Child Has Been Charged with a Crime?

Children charged with a crime are an especially vulnerable population. As this article has shown, the juvenile and adult criminal processes are deeply complex as well as intertwined. If your child has been charged with a crime, be sure to contact us quickly. We’ll do everything we can to help your family.

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