When Can a Minor Be Tried as an Adult in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, a juvenile under the age of 18 can be tried for a felony offense the same as an adult if violence is involved and the crime meets certain criteria.

When Juvenile Crimes Become Felonies

Can a minor be charged with a felony? Minnesota juveniles can be charged as adults when they are suspected of violent crimes or offenses that are normally punishable by prison sentences when committed by adults. In most cases, juvenile offenders charged as adults are 16 to 17 years of age, but younger teens can be charged as well under certain circumstances. Prosecutors can begin the adult certification process if the minor is between 14 and 17 years old. If certification is approved by a judge, the case is transferred to an adult criminal court.

When determining certification approval, a judge considers certain factors that include the age of the child; the child’s record of delinquency and criminal history; the severity of the crime; the use of lethal weapons; and the child’s participation in the crime. Some of the most common felonies committed by Minnesota juveniles include:

  • Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Grand Theft
  • Weapons Offenses
  • Sale or Distribution of Drugs
  • Sex Crimes

Extended Juvenile Jurisdiction

If convicted of a felony as an adult, a juvenile offender can face serious penalties including a minimum one-year sentence to state prison and the loss of civil rights. Minnesota felony charges are serious and require a criminal defense attorney in Minneapolis who can navigate a complex legal system.

Juvenile felony offenses can result in one last chance for a minor to avoid adult sanctions and remain in the juvenile system. Extended Juvenile Jurisdiction (EJJ) is a hybrid type of sentence that requires strict compliance. EJJ allows a minor to remain in the juvenile system under strict probation requirements until the age of 21. It comes with an adult prison sentence that will be imposed if the minor breaks his/her rules of probation.

A juvenile can enter EJJ in two ways: (1) If the prosecutor fails to persuade the judge that the juvenile offender should be certified as an adult, and (2) If the prosecutor moves for EJJ instead of an adult criminal court for juvenile felony offenders between 14 and 17 years old. Minnesota juvenile courts promote rehabilitation that supports law-abiding behavior, while adult courts are usually restricted by legal guidelines that mandate prison sentences, especially in violent offenses. A criminal defense attorney Minneapolis can provide protection for juvenile felony offenders through EJJ program compliance.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Knowing how to choose a criminal defense lawyer in Minneapolis, MN, can help you hire a lawyer who will prepare an effective defense strategy and fight for the best result from your case. One of the crucial tips when selecting a criminal defense lawyer is to vet those with relevant experience in cases like yours. You can only do this when you thoroughly understand the charges you are facing.
People anticipating an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, might ask, “What is the role of a defense attorney during an arrest?” A skilled criminal defense attorney can explain your options, ensure the police follow the rules, and protect your rights. The attorney will build a solid defense, talk to the prosecutor, and fight for your best interests.
Knowing when to hire a criminal lawyer for your case in Minnesota can help protect your constitutional rights and turn the odds in your favor. You should retain a criminal lawyer immediately after learning you are under investigation, get arrested, or are charged with a crime. Seasoned criminal lawyers understand the criminal justice system, can build a winning defense strategy, and aggressively push for a positive outcome of your case.