Blurry PrisonThe transfer of juveniles from delinquency court to an adult court is a pressing issues juvenile defenders face in their practice. According to the National Juvenile Defense Standards, Standard 8.4, juvenile defense counsel must, when in the client’s expressed interests, endeavor to prevent adult prosecution of a child client.

Adult court judges are often unfamiliar with the needs of younger defendants, the resources needed to protect juveniles, or the findings of adolescent development research. Transfer decisions may impact the placement of young people in adult jail, and often entail dispositional options that are unsuitable for children or adolescents. As such, juvenile defenders must explain the nature of the proceedings and the consequences of transfer to the client and the client’s parents.

The legal mechanism through which jurisdiction over a child’s case is transferred from the juvenile court to the adult court is called a waiver. Waiver laws come in many different forms, depending on the state. The various forms of waiver laws include:

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