Typically, the law in Texas draws a difference between adults and juveniles when it comes to criminal charges, including drug charges. Sometimes, due to the nature of a case, a juvenile can be charged as if they were an adult, which comes with more severe punishment. It’s important to know what can trigger this and why a juvenile case might be pushed up to the adult level.
When juvenile drug charges become adult ones
The process to move a case to the world of adult criminal law is called certification. It requires the prosecution to apply for certification and hold a special hearing for the judge to decide on the matter.
The four factors that can lead to certification all play a role. The first is if the victim was a person rather than an item of property. The second two factors are the maturity level of the respondent and their prior criminal history. The last factor is whether rehabilitation of the respondent and the protection of the public would be better served in juvenile detention or adult prison. The judge can also take into account other factors, like whether the juvenile drug case was a zero-tolerance offense.
Certification can be disputed
The process for certifying a juvenile as an adult defendant is serious and can dramatically increase the stakes of a criminal case. It is important to be prepared and understand how certification works as well as how to dispute it in such cases. Avoiding the elevated legal threat of adult charges is an important goal of anyone who is in charge of defending a juvenile in court for drug charges.