If your teenage son or daughter gets arrested on suspicion of a serious crime, it’s possible that prosecutors will charge them as an adult. This usually means the defendant faces much more serious penalties if convicted, no matter how old they are. It is not unusual in Ohio for a child of 14 or 15 to be tried in adult court if they are accused of homicide.
For less serious crimes like misdemeanor drug possession and OVI, most minors will be tried in juvenile court. Still, a recent ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court might be comforting to you as a parent. In a close vote, the court ruled that when a juvenile court rejects charges due to lack of evidence, prosecutors cannot recharge the minor with the same crimes in adult criminal court.
Court rules in juveniles’ favor
“To hold that the state may seek criminal charges against a juvenile in adult court for acts that the court with exclusive, original jurisdiction found to be unsupported by probable cause would be noxious to fundamental fairness,” wrote Justice Jennifer Brunner. In other words, it would be unjust for judges and prosecutors to ignore the decision of a juvenile court judge and subject a minor to a second round of charges related to the same alleged crimes.
This ruling might affect prosecutors’ strategy when charging a teenager. From your child’s perspective, getting charged in juvenile court can be better, but a conviction can still take away their freedom and affect their ability to go to college or get a job in the future. A strong defense is their best chance for getting past a mistake and staying on track for their life goals.