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Can Children Face Criminal Charges in Indiana?

In February 2022, a 12-year-old girl was arrested for allegedly torturing another girl at a sleepover and attacking her on a bus. She has now been charged with the adult equivalent of offenses, including aggravated battery and intimidation, which raises an interesting question: when can children be charged as adults in Indiana?

Juveniles and Adult Court

Although most children under 18 will go through the juvenile justice system, Title 31 of Indiana state law sets out when children may be charged as adults.

  • Young persons over 16 must be tried as adults for certain crimes, including murder, rape, or kidnapping.
  • Children can be tried as adults for murder if they were at least 12 years old at the time of the incident.
  • A young person may be tried as an adult for certain felony charges if there’s a pattern of delinquent behavior and the courts believe the child is beyond rehabilitation within the juvenile system. The child must have been 14 or older at the time of the incident.

Typically, children as young as 12 will go through the juvenile system. However, that does not mean the offenses go unpunished.

Penalties for Juvenile Offenses

The penalties vary depending on the child’s age and the offense committed. Punishments for juvenile offenses include:

  • community service
  • detention in a juvenile facility
  • orders to undergo treatment for substance abuse or mental health problems
  • payment of restitution

If the courts try your child as an adult and they’re found guilty, they face adult equivalent penalties such as fines and possible jail time.

Consequences of Juvenile Offenses

Juveniles found guilty of crimes may face significant long-term consequences, including:

  • loss of education opportunities
  • mental health issues
  • problems with background checks
  • reduced employment prospects

When a child turns 18, their record follows them into adulthood. Juvenile offenses, then, can seriously jeopardize a young person’s future, so you should hire an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately if your child faces criminal charges. Contact Razumich & Associates or call us today at 317-983-5333 for a free case evaluation.

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