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Juvenile Prosecutions

In General

In Missouri, people 17 years of age and older who commit crimes are prosecuted as adults.

In general, children under the age of 17 are prosecuted in juvenile court.

In Cape Girardeau County, the prosecutor’s office prosecutes adult offenders. The Juvenile Office handles most juvenile offenders in juvenile court.

Certification as an Adult

Missouri law provides that a juvenile can be "certified" to be tried as an adult in adult court. In order to do this, a hearing is held before the juvenile court judge, who determines whether the best interests of justice would be served by having the juvenile tried as an adult.

Children of any age who have committed the crimes of first degree murder, second degree murder, first degree assault, forcible rape, forcible sodomy, first degree robbery, or distribution of drugs, may be certified for trial as adults. Section 211.071, RSMo.

Children of any age who have committed two or more prior felonies may be certified as adults for the prosecution of a third felony.

A child between the ages of 12 and 17 who has committed any felony may be certified for trial as an adult.

In determining whether the case against a particular child should be certified to adult court, the juvenile court judge is required by Section 211.071, RSMo, to consider several factors:

1. The seriousness of the offense alleged and whether protection of the community requires transfer to the court of general jurisdiction;

2. Whether the offense alleged involved viciousness, force and violence;

3. Whether the offense alleged was against persons or property with greater weight being given to the offenses against persons, especially if personal injury resulted;

4. Whether the offense alleged was a part of a repetitive pattern of offenses which indicates that the child may be beyond rehabilitation under the juvenile code;

5. The record and history of the child, including experience with the juvenile justice system, other courts, supervision, commitments to juvenile institutions and other placements;

6. The sophistication and maturity of the child as determined by consideration of his home and environmental situation, emotional condition and pattern of living;

7. The age of the child;

8. The program and facilities available to the juvenile court in considering disposition;

9. Whether or not the child can benefit from the treatment or rehabilitative programs available to the juvenile court; and

10. Racial disparity in certification.

Dual Jurisdiction

Even when the juvenile court judge has certified a child’s case for prosecution as an adult, the adult court judge can invoke what is called "dual jurisdiction." Under this law, enacted in 1998, the judge may sentence the defendant to begin serving a sentence in a juvenile facility, but have him transferred to an adult prison when he becomes 21 years old or otherwise "beyond the scope" of juvenile treatment programs. Section 211.073, RSMo.

 

 

 

 

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