Teen to be Tried as Juvenile in Killing of Wilmington Clerk
In a surprising move considering the seriousness of the charges, a Delaware teen will be tried as a juvenile in connection with the January 2017 shooting of a Wilmington store employee. Online news source Delaware Online reports that a Superior Court judge granted the defendant’s attorneys request to transfer the case to Family Court from the adult criminal system. The minor was 14 years old at the time of the crime, when he and a 22-year-old man entered the store and demanded cash from the clerk at gunpoint. A physical altercation ensued, resulting in the shooting and death of the worker. The pair was charged with a number of offenses, some of which would typically require the teen’s case to advance to adult court. There are a number of advantages of proceeding in Family Court, so you should discuss your options with a lawyer that has experience in Delaware juvenile offenses.
Treatment of Juveniles in Delaware Criminal Cases
In general, the Delaware Family Court system has jurisdiction over offenders under the age of 18. There are exceptions for teens aged 14 or older where the charges are serious, such as First or Second Degree Murder, various sex offenses, violent crimes, and other offenses. These default directly to the adult criminal system in Superior Court, as do cases involving a person aged 16 or older who has a prior conviction.
A Family Court judge still has the power to send a juvenile through the adult court system, based upon whether the minor is amenable.
- Amenability: If a court finds that a child can benefit from rehabilitation efforts offered through the juvenile court system, he or she may be considered amenable. The case remains in Family Court. Where the child is 14 or older and there are concerns about amenability, a judge may send the case to Superior Court.
- Reverse Amenability: There are situations where the Superior Court has jurisdiction over the case due to the type of offense and age of the offender. However, a judge may view the minor as amenable and send the matter to Family Court in a situation of reverse amenability. There are two ways that reverse amenability can operate to transfer the case to Family Court:
- The prosecuting attorney may move the court to treat the child as a juvenile if doing so serves the interests of justice; or,
- A defendant can request the Superior Court to hold a hearing, where the judge will consider the seriousness of the crime, the minor’s prior record, and other factors.
Trust a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney with Your Case
If your child was arrested and charged with a crime, there are options to proceed in Family Court as a juvenile instead of being tried as an adult. The benefits are considerable, but the process is highly complex and requires in-depth knowledge of Delaware criminal law. Your chances of a favorable outcome improve greatly if you retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent your interests. For more information on juvenile offenses, please contact the Wilmington, DE office of Michael W. Modica. Our legal team can schedule a free, no-obligations consultation to review your case and explain your options.