In Michigan, pursuant to MCL 712A.2(a)(1) the family court has jurisdiction for criminal prosecutions of minors under the age of 17; persons 17 years and older are considered to be adults for criminal law purposes.
However, there are certain serious offenses juvenile offenses that allow for the automatic jurisdiction of the adult court if committed by a juvenile who is 14 years or older and less than 17 years old pursuant to MCL 600.606. These offenses are: Arson of dwelling/building (MCL 750.72); Assault with Intent to commit Murder (MCL 750.83); Assault with intent to Maim (MCL 750.86); Assault with intent to Rob (MCL 750.89); Attempted Murder (MCL 750.91); First Degree Murder (MCL 750.316); Second Degree Murder (MCL 750.317); Kidnapping (MCL 750.349); First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (MCL 750.520b); Armed Robbery (MCL 750.529); Carjacking (MCL 750.529a); and Bank Robbery (MCL 750.531). Also, the juvenile is treated as an adult for Assault GBH (MCL 750.84) and Home Invasion (MCL 750.110a) if the juvenile was armed with a dangerous weapon at the time of the offense. Escape from a juvenile facility under MCL 750.186a can be the basis of automatic waiver, depending on the juvenile’s classification level. Certain drug manufacture/delivery offenses (MCL 333.7401(2)(a))(1) and Possession of larger quantities of controlled substances (MCL 333.7403(2)(a)(1)) will result in jurisdiction with the adult justice system. The procedure when a juvenile is charged as an adult for one of these serious offenses is called an automatic waiver.
For other offenses in which the alleged crime occurred when the accused was under the age of 17, but at the time of prosecution is over the age of 17 years, there is a process for that. The family court conducts a waiver hearing. See MCL 712A.3(1); MCL 712A.4(1), MCR 3.950(A) – (C).
There are 2 phases of a waiver hearing. The first hearing consists of a probable cause determination as to whether or not the offense occurred, the Defendant committed the offense, and the offense would be considered to be a felony if committed by an adult. See MCR 3.950(D)(1). If there is a determination of probable cause, a second hearing is conducted to determine if it is in the interest of the juvenile and the public to allow the waiver to occur. See MCR 3.950(D)(2). There are certain factors that a Judge will consider in making this determination, but they give the most weight to the seriousness of the alleged offense and the individual’s prior record. The other factors are:
(a) the seriousness of the alleged crime considering the protection of the community. Aggravating factors recognized by the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines, the use of a firearm/weapon, and how the victim was impacted are also considered.
(b) the level of culpability of the individual in the commission of the alleged offense. Again, factors listed in the Michigan Sentence Guidelines are considered, as well as the degree the individual planned and participated in the alleged offense.
(c) The individual’s prior record in the community, including school record, juvenile record, police record, or anything else that indicates prior delinquency.
(d) Whether or not the individual participated in any programs in the past. What was the individual’s level of willingness to participate and benefit from available programs.
(e) How adequate is the juvenile system to punish or rehabilitate the individual.
(f) The available dispositional options that the Court has to address the individual.
This is all viewed in the context that Michigan’s juvenile laws embrace the notion that minor’s have a greater ability to change and rehabilitate. There is a belief that the older you get, the more set in your ways you become.
Juvenile offenses can have lifelong consequences. When your child is accused of a criminal charge, the best route for you is to immediately contact an experienced criminal lawyer. Attorney Daniel Hilf is a great option. He has years of experience handling juvenile matters and will help guide you to the best possible result given the circumstances.