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Juveniles in Virginia who are charged with criminal offenses must be aware of the possibility of the case being certified and transferred from juvenile court to circuit court and being tried as an adult. If the juvenile is 14 or older and has been accused of committing a felony, this could occur. With the certification to circuit court, certain felonies fit the requirement for a judge to make the decision on a transfer.

The attorney or one parent, the legal guardian and the juvenile will be informed by the Commonwealth that the request has been made to transfer to the case to circuit court. There will be a hearing to decide on probable cause with the allegations and if the move to circuit court is appropriate. The judge will consider this based on if there were previous court cases, if the juvenile is competent, what the juvenile's school record is and the emotional maturity of the juvenile.

With a violent felony, the case could be transferred from juvenile court to circuit court. As with the certification, the parties must be informed of this decision and there will be the assessment of probable cause. If probable cause is found, then the case will likely be transferred.

If there is a charge of murder or aggravated malicious wounding, it will automatically be certified to go to circuit court. There will not need to be a request made for this to take place. If the juvenile made statements while the transfer hearing, they cannot be used as evidence unless the juvenile testifies at trial. The Commonwealth and the juvenile have the option to appeal the decision on whether to transfer the case or not. This must be done within 10 days of the hearing. If there is a conviction in circuit court, the juvenile will be viewed as an adult at any subsequent criminal case.

Simply because the crime was committed by a juvenile does not mean it will be in the juvenile law system. A juvenile that is 14-years-old and older who is charged with a crime might have the case moved from juvenile court to circuit court. This can lead to more severe long-term consequences if there is a conviction. Having a legal professional help with a defense is key whether the case is considered a juvenile criminal offense or is moved to circuit court. This is vital for the juvenile's future and could help with reduced and dismissed penalties as well as reducing and dismissing the charges against the juvenile.

Source: courts.state.va.us, "The Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court -- Certification or Transfer to Circuit Court for Trial as an Adult," Feb. 11, 2017

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