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When a Virginia juvenile aged 14 or older is convicted of an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult, he or she can be committed to a juvenile correctional facility in certain circumstances. The juvenile can be committed if he or she committed the offense while on parole for an offense that would have been a felony had an adult committed it.

The juvenile can also be committed for an offense that would be a felony punishable by more than 20 years imprisonment if committed by an adult, or if the juvenile was committed within the previous year for an act that would have been a felony had an adult committed it. Finally, the court can commit a juvenile who was previously found delinquent for an offense that would be an adult felony resulting in at least 20 years incarceration if the court determines that commitment is required for the juvenile to be rehabilitated.

The court must consider certain factors in determining whether the juvenile will be committed. These include the juvenile's age; the number of offenses and their seriousness; and whether the offense was committed violently or in a premeditated or willful way. The court must also consider whether the offense was against persons or property; whether the offense included the use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon; and what part the juvenile played in the offense. The juvenile's previous record regardless of jurisdiction will be examined.

Parents who have a minor child charged with a juvenile criminal offense need to be aware of the potential long-term consequences. Contacting an experienced attorney to plan a defense is imperative in these situations.

Source: law.lis.virginia.gov, "16.1-285.1. Commitment of serious offenders.," accessed on Oct. 9, 2016

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