In Las Vegas, Nevada when a juvenile is charged with a criminal offense the matter is initially sent to the juvenile justice system. But, once in the juvenile system the child can be moved into the adult system. When a juvenile is moved into the adult system this is called “certification”. Depending on the charge, and certain characteristics of the minor’s background, the prosecutor may attempt to certify a minor as an adult, if successful, the minor will be treated the same as an adult offender in the criminal justice system.
Fortunately, in most cases, an experienced criminal defense attorney can fight this certification process and if successful the Judge will allow the minor to remain in the juvenile system, where generally the focus is rehabilitative, unlike the adult system where the main focus is punishment. If a minor is charged with any of the following crimes they will be required to be tried in the adult system: Murder; Attempt Murder; Sexual Assault with use or threatened use of force or violence if the child was 16 or older and had previously been adjudicated delinquent for an act that would be a felony if committed by an adult; and an offense involving the use or threatened use of a firearm if the person was 16 or older and had previously been adjudicated delinquent for an act that would be a felony if committed by an adult.
If the offense charged is not one of the above that require “mandatory certification”, Nevada Revised Statute “NRS” 62B.390 provides the Court with discretion to determine on a case-by-case basis, whether the child should remain in the juvenile court system. Initially the court must find that there exists, “prosecutive merit”, meaning the prosecutor must establish probable cause existed for the charges against the juvenile. If prosecutive merit is found, then the court makes a two-pronged analysis. The Court must first make a finding of whether the child has substance abuse problems, emotional or behavioral problems or is developmentally or mentally incompetent to understand his situation and the proceedings of the court or to aid his attorney in those proceedings. Once the first prong has been established by clearing and convincing evidence, the Court then must determine whether the child’s problems may be appropriately treated through the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. Additionally, the court must consider whether the facts of the case can be considered “heinous and egregious” to justify certification, as well as the minor’s past offenses and the seriousness of those offenses if any.
If your child is cited or arrested for a criminal offense, Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorney Michael A. Troiano can represent your child and work to prevent him or her from being certified as an adult and thrown into the adult criminal justice system.