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Juvenile Defense – Delinquency

In the State of Georgia, the Juvenile Court has jurisdiction over children under 17 years of age who are said to have committed a delinquent act or status offense. A delinquent act is one that would be a crime if it were committed by an adult. In contrast, a status offense is an act that would not be a crime if it were committed by an adult. Examples of status offenses are ungovernable behavior, being a runaway, and being truant (the behaviors listed in the table below are status offenses). The juvenile court also has jurisdiction over juveniles who commit traffic offenses. In addition, the court has jurisdiction over children aged 17 and younger who are considered to be abused, neglected, or deprived.

For youths who have been "sentenced" as juveniles, the court may retain supervision until they are 21. (Note that rather than actually being sentenced to punishment as adults are, juveniles are said to receive treatment with the goal of rehabilitation.) However, if a youth previously sentenced in juvenile court commits another offense after he or she is 17, the subsequent offense would be handled by an adult court.

The 1994 amendment to the Georgia Juvenile Court Code provides for the treatment of juvenile offenders charged with certain violent offenses as adults. It gives the superior court sole jurisdiction over any child alleged to have committed certain offenses, including murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery, and armed robbery committed with a firearm.

Before a juvenile is indicted as an adult, the district attorney may, after investigation and for "extraordinary cause," withdraw the case and submit it to the juvenile court. Also, following indictment, the superior court may, after investigation and for extraordinary case, transfer a case to the juvenile court. However, there are some capital cases that the superior court may not transfer, including cases involving murder, rape, and armed robbery committed with a firearm.

Children under 13 years of age are not believed to be capable of criminal intent. Therefore, even if they commit a capital offense, the case must be handled by the juvenile court.

The rules and procedure for Juvenile Court are complex and legal assistance should be sought when your child or loved one is facing Delinquency charges.  Davis Law can be reached at 404.901.2500 and 770.922.8500 to discuss your Juvenile Court needs, or send us a message from our website - Contact Davis Law.