Statutory Exclusion

Twenty-eight States have statutes that remove certain offenses or age/offense/prior record categories from the juvenile courtís jurisdiction. Generally, the laws of such States simply exclude anyone fitting into one of these categories from being defined as a "child" for juvenile court jurisdictional purposes. A juvenile accused of an excluded offense is treated as an adult from the beginning -- thatis, proceeded against (by information, indictment, or otherwise) in the criminal court that would have had jurisdiction over the same offense if it had been committed by an adult. This way of proceeding is not merely an option available to the prosecutor, as in those States that leave the determination of how to process certain offenses or age/offense categories to the prosecutorís discretion (see Direct File). Once the prosecutor has made the decision to charge a juvenile with an excluded offense, the case must be filed in criminal court -- although many States provide a mechanism under which criminal courts may order excluded cases transferred to juvenile courts (see Reverse Waiver).

Some States exclude only the most serious offenses; in New Mexico, for example, only first-degree murder committed by a child of at least 15 is excluded. Others single out cases involving older juveniles. Mississippi excludes all felonies committed by 17-year-olds. It should be noted that one blanket application of this method -- simply lowering the upper age limit of original juvenile court jurisdiction -- excludes the largest number of juveniles for adult prosecution. Finally, as is the case with the presumptive and mandatory waiver provisions previously discussed, some States focus not so much on offense or age as on the individual juvenileís offense history. Arizona excludes any felony committed by a juvenile as young as 15, provided the juvenile has two or more previous delinquency adjudications for offenses that would have been felonies if committed by an adult.

Table: Statutory Exclusion: Minimum Age and Offense Criteria, 1997

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Trying Juveniles as Adults in Criminal Court: An Analysis of State Transfer Provisions December 1998