Juveniles Can Face Adult Consequences in Minnesota Through Certification

Generally speaking, a person who is under the age of 18 that commits a criminal offense is dealt with in the juvenile court system where the stakes typically are not as high as in adult court. However, in Minnesota, there is a process known as “certification” or “certification to adult court” through which a juvenile can have their case transferred to adult court and face the same potential consequences as an adult, including long-term imprisonment.

Prosecutors generally only seek to certify a juvenile to adult court for serious felony level allegations. Minnesota law sets forth two types of certification proceedings: presumptive certification proceedings and non-presumptive certification proceedings.

In a non-presumptive certification proceeding, a judge may order certification to adult court only if the prosecuting attorney has demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence that retaining the proceeding in juvenile court does not serve public safety.

In determining whether public safety can be served in criminal court, a judge is required to consider a number of factors including the seriousness of the offense, culpability, any prior record of delinquency, programming history, and the adequacy of punishment available in the juvenile system.

There are also certain offenses where it may be presumed that a juvenile should face trial in adult court, depending on the circumstances. In these situations, the burden is on the juvenile to rebut this presumption by showing that public safety can be served by keeping the case in juvenile court.

There is also an intermediate level of potential consequences and oversight that a juvenile may be subject to under certain circumstances that is known as “Extended Juvenile Jurisdiction” (“EJJ”) prosecution. EJJ proceedings allow a juvenile court to maintain oversight of a child for a longer period of time than the typical juvenile court rules allow for, but also do not necessarily subject the child to an adult sentence, though there is a risk of an adult sentence in an EJJ proceeding.

Though juvenile records are not always as easily accessed as adult records, juvenile offenses carry the risk of incarceration, including prison, and other life-long consequences, especially where certification is at issue.

Attorneys John J. Leunig and Justin J. Duffy have vast experience handing cases in the juvenile court system. These are difficult and often complex cases that have the added element of the accused being a child. We defend these cases with passion using traditional criminal defense methods and in certain cases, depending on the circumstances, we also employ the use of psychologists, psychiatrists and other treatment professionals in order to obtain the very best result and allow our clients, and their families, to move forward with their lives.

If you or a loved one are facing charges in juvenile court, or any other criminal offense, call the dedicated and experienced criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of John J. Leunig, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 952-540-6800 for a free consultation.

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