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Can a minor (16) be tried as an adult?

Seattle, WA |
Attorney answers 3


A 16 year old cannot be charged as an adult for the crime of theft in the third degree. Some crimes yes, but not misdemeanor theft. In juvenile court the defendant will face up to 30 days confinement, 100 hours community service, a $550 fine and up to 12 months probation.

An experienced attorney will be able to evaluate the possibility of a diversion or deferred adjudication.

Len Nahajski


For some serious crimes, juvenile court can decline jurisdiction and send a minor to adult court. However, a third degree theft, which is a misdemeanor, is not such a crime. In fact, if the juvenile has no criminal history, the case may be eligible for something called diversion, which is a resolution where the case is resolved without any criminal conviction. Make sure the lawyer who gets involved in this case is very familiar with juvenile criminal cases so that they can advise this minor of all his or her options.


An adult court has no jurisdiction over a juvenile for a misdemeanor theft. The juvenile court will likely address the case with a pre-trial diversion program. You will be given the opportunity to discuss your case with an attorney and discuss the best options.