Yes, juveniles can be tried as adults on serious criminal cases in Minnesota. There are two different ways this can be done: Certification or Extended Juvenile Jurisdiction (“EJJ”). In both situations, the prosecutor must file a motion asking for certification or EJJ. The court will then order studies to be completed to give a background on juvenile prior to the hearing to determine whether the juvenile should be certified as an adult or be designated for EJJ. Some of the factors the court will consider are seriousness of the alleged offense, culpability of the juvenile, prior record of delinquency, programming history, adequacy of programming available in juvenile court, and other dispositional options. The court can also have evaluations completed prior to the hearing, such as for mental health, chemical dependency, and psychosexual.
The judge will then determine whether the juvenile should be certified to adult court or designated EJJ. Certification is often seen on cases where a person would be facing prison time if they were an adult. If successful, the juvenile is treated as an adult so they have the right to a jury trial and would get an adult sentence if they are found guilty. This often means that the juvenile goes to an adult correctional facility with a juvenile wing and transition to an adult wing when they turn eighteen years old. A juvenile should always try and avoid certification and can request a hearing to show why certification should not occur. Sometimes avoiding certification can lead to the case remaining in juvenile court and in other situations the case just enters the EJJ process instead.
Extended Juvenile Jurisdiction is very similar to Certification, but the juvenile is given the opportunity to keep an adult sentence off their record. In EJJ the juvenile is still considered an adult and is given the rights of an adult criminal case, including the right to a jury trial. But if the juvenile is found guilty, the judge will give both a juvenile and adult sentence. But unlike Certification, the adult sentence is put on hold and the juvenile is put on probation until they turn twenty-one years old. If the juvenile completes the probation for the juvenile sentence, then the adult sentence never occurs. EJJ should be avoided but if the criminal offense is serious enough and the juvenile is sixteen years of age or older it may not be.
In fighting Certification and EJJ there are several factors the Court can consider. The burden of proof can be on the Prosecutor or the juvenile depending on the situation. It is always important to talk with an attorney if you or your child is facing a juvenile case especially one where a motion for certification or EJJ exists. The ramifications are great depending on what avenue the court ends up placing the juvenile on. And, there may be opportunities within the case to keep it simply in juvenile court.