Ohio Juvenile Tried as Adult

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defend ohio juvenile tried as adultWhen young people are tried as adults in criminal court, they face the same penalties as adults. This includes the death penalty or life without parole. They will receive little or no education, mental health treatment, or rehabilitative programming. In addition, the adult criminal record they receive as a result may significantly limit their future education and employment opportunities.

Ohio Juveniles in Adult Jails

Juveniles in adult jails are at greater risk of rape, assault and death when imprisoned with adult inmates.

Case: Doe v. Burwell

Location: Ironton, Ohio

Offense: 15-year-old girl ran away from home overnight and then returned home the next day.

Detained: Adult County Jail by the juvenile court judge to teach her a lesson.

Result: Sexually assaulted by a deputy jailer on the fourth night of her confinement.

Ohio jail records show that more than 500 children have been incarcerated in adult jail over a three-year period for offenses that would not be considered crimes if committed by adults.

Transfer of Juvenile Offender to Youthful Offender in Ohio

Discretionary Waiver

If a child is charged with a felony and is at least 14 years of age, his case may be transferred for criminal prosecution as an adult if, after investigation and a hearing, the juvenile court finds that:

  1. Probable cause to believe the child committed the alleged offense exists.
  2. The child cannot be rehabilitated in the juvenile system.
  3. The "safety of the community may require that the child be subject to adult sanctions."

Ohio juvenile law also specifies that when a child alleged to have committed an offense requiring a mandatory transfer as well as an offense that is subject to discretionary transfer, the juvenile court is authorized to transfer the discretionary offense along with the mandatory one, without any investigation or special findings beyond a probable cause determination.

Mandatory Waiver

The conditions for mandatory waiver in Ohio depend on the age of the child and the alleged offense.

Age 14

  1. Aggravated murder, murder, or the attempt to commit aggravated murder or murder, if the accused was previously placed in Department of Youth Services custody following a delinquency adjudication for:
    • any of the above ("category 1 offenses") or
    • voluntary manslaughter, first degree involuntary manslaughter, kidnapping, aggravated arson, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, rape, or the former crime of felonious sexual penetration ("category 2 offenses").

Age 16

  1. Aggravated murder, murder, or the attempt to commit aggravated murder or murder; also voluntary or first degree involuntary manslaughter, if committed
    • with a firearm or
    • by a child previously placed in Department of Youth Services custody following a delinquency adjudication for a "category 1" or "category 2" offense.
  2. Rape or aggravated robbery committed
    • with a firearm or
    • by a child previously placed in Department of Youth Services custody following a delinquency adjudication for a "category 1" or "category 2" offense.
  3. Aggravated arson or aggravated burglary, if committed
    • with a firearm or
    • by a child previously placed in Department of Youth Services custody following a delinquency adjudication for a "category 1" or "category 2" offense.

Serious Youthful Offender (SYO) and Juvenile Blended Sentencing

If a juvenile is qualified as a "serious youthful offender" or SYO, he may be tried in juvenile court and sentenced both as a juvenile and as an adult. In this case the adult sentence is suspended pending successful completion of the juvenile sentence. At any time while the juvenile is still in institutional custody, on escape status, or subject to parole, aftercare, or community control, the juvenile court may conduct a hearing to invoke the suspended adult portion of an SYO sentence. But the court may only invoke the adult sentence if clear and convincing evidence exists that the juvenile, after reaching the age of 14:

  1. Committed a violation of institutional rules or conditions of supervision that rises to the level of a felony or violent first-degree misdemeanor, or
  2. Engaged in conduct that "creates a substantial risk to the safety or security" of the community, the victim, or (in the case of juveniles who are still in custody) the institution, and
  3. The violation or misconduct "demonstrates that the person is unlikely to be rehabilitated during the remaining period of juvenile jurisdiction."

In Ohio, Once an Adult, Always an Adult

Once a juvenile has been transferred to adult court and convicted of (or pleaded guilty to) any felony, he or she is thereafter deemed not to be a "child" in any subsequent case. Likewise, a juvenile who has had the adult portion of a "serious youthful offender" sentence invoked is no longer deemed a child. Future complaints against such a juvenile must be filed initially in juvenile court, but the court's only role is to confirm the previous conviction/invocation and order a mandatory transfer to adult criminal court upon a finding of probable cause.



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