Juvenile Felony Charges

Intermountain Legal handles juvenile criminal matters on behalf of parents and children in Salt Lake City and throughout Utah, including cases involving juvenile felony charges.

Moving Cases from Juvenile to Criminal Court

While the juvenile justice system is meant to rehabilitate rather than condemn, juvenile offenders increasingly face harsh consequences and punishments if they are accused of a serious crime or felony. Under Utah’s Serious Youth Offender Law (SYOL), certain categories of juvenile offenders, including some first time offenders, must always be transferred to the criminal justice system and be tried as adults. This legislative move rejects discretionary transfer and any attempt at juvenile court rehabilitation. Charges covered by SYOL include:

  • Murder or aggravated murder
  • Felonies committed after the juvenile has been in a secure facility
  • Aggravated arson
  • Aggravated assault (intentionally causing serious bodily injury)
  • Aggravated kidnapping
  • Aggravated burglary
  • Aggravated robbery
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Discharge of a firearm from a vehicle
  • Attempted aggravated murder
  • Attempted murder
  • Any other felony offense involving the use of a dangerous weapon in which the juvenile has been previously adjudicated or convicted of a felony offense involving a dangerous weapon

If a youth is accused of any of these charges (except murder or a felony committed after being in a secure facility, in which case the charge is filed directly in District Court), he or she receives a hearing in Juvenile Court, and if the prosecution establishes probable cause that the youth committed the crime, it is presumed that the case will transfer to adult criminal court. A juvenile may contest the presumption of his or her transfer by “clear and convincing evidence” only if all of the following criteria are satisfied:

  • The minor has not previously been adjudicated delinquent for a felony offense involving the use of a dangerous weapon;
  • If the offense was committed with one or more persons, the minor appears to have a lesser degree of culpability than the codefendants; and
  • The minor’s role in the offense was not committed in a violent, aggressive, or premeditated manner.

Because SYOL intends to be tough on youth offenders, it is very difficult to keep serious felony cases in Juvenile Court. However, the representation of an experienced juvenile defense attorney can help you and your child explore every option to minimize the consequences of a felony charge. At Intermountain Legal, we will work tirelessly to protect your child’s rights and future, using smart, effective defense tactics.

Seek Experienced, Intelligent Defense Representation

If your child has been charged with a felony, it is imperative to obtain legal counsel as soon as possible to ensure your child has the best chance of avoiding conviction. Contact Intermountain Legal today for a free initial consultation.