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What is the Sentence for a Juvenile Charged With Assault in Minnesota?

There are two different justice systems in Minnesota: one for juveniles and one for adults. Both systems often deal with the same charges, but the sentences can be very different. If you are asking what is the sentence for a juvenile charged with assault, juvenile justice is typically not as harsh as what adult defendants face.

If your child is facing juvenile assault charges, they could still face substantial consequences. In some cases, an adjudication by the court that your child is delinquent could require extensive counseling or fines. In extreme cases, they could spend the rest of their teenage years in juvenile detention.

The attorneys at Gerald Miller know what is at stake with every juvenile assault case. Often, we can show the court that rehabilitating a juvenile client is not only possible, but that it is the best available option as well. To learn more, contact Gerald Miller as soon as possible regarding your assault case in Minnesota.

Penalties for Juvenile Assault Charges

When it comes to juvenile assault charges, the potential consequences are not as certain as they are in adult court. While each adult charge of assault carries a set maximum jail term for adults, juvenile judges have much more leeway when deciding their cases.

The steepest penalty available in a juvenile assault case is commitment to a juvenile correctional facility. This option is a last resort, but it is not uncommon for violent offenses.

Other juvenile assault cases involve the assessment of fines or probation. Counseling and anger management are also frequently relied on in juvenile court. A juvenile could also be required to pay restitution to a victim. This is common in assault cases where property damage or medical bills occur.

Charging Juveniles as Adults

Minnesota law only allows prosecutors to charge juveniles as adults under certain circumstances. When these circumstances are present, a juvenile could face the adult justice system and the consequences that come with it. This distinction is important. While the juvenile justice system is designed to rehabilitate, the adult justice system focuses on punishment and deterrence. If you’re asking what is the sentence for a juvenile charged with assault, the end result for a juvenile charged as an adult could be significant time behind bars.

Not all juveniles are eligible to be tried as an adult. According to state law, children under the age of 14 do not have the capacity to commit crimes. This means under no circumstances can juveniles under the age of 14 be tried as an adult.

Additionally, not all offenses will result in adult charge. While all charges for individuals under the age of 18 begin in juvenile court, the state can move to transfer serious charges into adult court. The offenses that could qualify for certification into adult court must be felonies. Typically, they are either violent felonies or charges that involve the brandishing or display of a firearm. Typically, misdemeanor assault charges are not certified as adult cases under Minnesota law.

Extended Jurisdiction Juveniles

Prosecutors have some additional options when it comes to pursuing assault charges against a juvenile. In some cases, the prosecution might feel that juvenile court is the best option even when it is possible to certify charges to adult court. In this situation, the prosecution can seek to qualify the defendant as an extended jurisdiction juvenile (EJJ). The extends juvenile court jurisdiction to the defendant until they reach the age of 21.

With an EJJ, both adult and juvenile charges are involved. If the juvenile meets the conditions set out by the court, they will remain in the juvenile system. If they fail to meet these conditions, they could be convicted as an adult.

The Juvenile Sentencing Process in Minnesota

While it is true that the juvenile system is different, minors still have rights. The police and prosecutors must go through several steps in order to bring assault charges against a juvenile, and there are even more requirements when it comes to actually securing a conviction. Understanding this process could be helpful for anyone with a minor child facing the possibility of an assault arrest.

Initial Report

The beginning of a juvenile assault case starts out just like an adult case. When a crime is reported to the police, their first step is to make an initial report and investigate the incident. The police will look into the allegations made in the report and determine if there is evidence of a crime being committed. If there is enough evidence, the case will move forward.


Just like with adults, the police have the power to arrest juveniles following accusations of an assault. While the police can detain minors, this process looks very different compared to when adults are arrested. There must be a detention hearing before a juvenile judge within 48 hours of arrest in most cases.

Most of the time, juveniles are allowed to leave the custody of police following the initial hearing and return home. Often, this involves a number of restrictions they must adhere to. Minors may only be kept in juvenile detention under limited circumstances.

State law is clear on when the courts can require a minor to remain in custody. Detention is not allowed following the initial hearing unless the state can show special circumstances exist. Detention is rare, and less likely to occur than the police citing the child and not detaining them at all. In cases where a child is never arrested, their parents will receive notice through the mail of their pending arraignment.

Court Proceedings

The first step in the criminal process is referred to as arraignment. A juvenile is given the chance to declare whether they are guilty or innocent of the assault charge they are facing.

When juveniles plead guilty, the court will skip a trial entirely and move on to a disposition hearing. It is at the disposition hearing where any potential consequences are handed down. Juveniles that do not plead guilty have their opportunity to have a trial.

Trials are different in juvenile court. While adult defendants have the opportunity to have their case heard by a jury, minors always must have their case decided by a juvenile judge. There is an important exception to this rule. While there is no right to a jury in delinquency cases, a minor could have the right to choose a jury if they are facing serious charges.

At trial, juveniles have the same rights as adults. They are entitled to call witnesses, and they have the right to an attorney. Their attorney can offer evidence and cross examine state witnesses just like in adult cases. One important difference compared to adult cases is that these trials are always held in private. This is a major departure from adult trials which take place in public.

It is not uncommon for these cases to take less time to resolve than adult cases. While a short resolution is never guaranteed, the court is focused on rehabilitation of a child as opposed to waiting for a long period of time before sentencing occurs.


If the juvenile in your life is acquitted at trial, they are immediately released and will not face any further consequences. If they are found guilty, their sentence will be handed down during the disposition hearing. There are various penalties that could be assessed by the court. The most serious of these is juvenile detention. While juvenile detention is rare, serious charges could result in a sentence that lasts months or longer. Some of the other penalties available include:

  • Counseling
  • Probation
  • Fines
  • Electronic monitoring
  • Community service
  • Alternative education
  • Placement in a foster home
  • House arrest

Most of the time, juveniles will face less-severe penalties compared to adults facing the same charges.

Talk to an Attorney About a Juvenile Assault Case

If your juvenile loved one has been arrested on assault charges, the outcome of the case could have a major impact on their future. Depending on the circumstances, this arrest could play out in either adult or juvenile court. The sentence for a juvenile assault case can be significant, including the possibility of spending time in a juvenile detention facility. The penalties for adult court are much higher.

If you have questions about your legal options following a juvenile assault arrest, the attorneys at Gerald Miller have the answers. To get started with your defense, schedule your initial consultation with Gerald Miller as soon as possible.

Related Content: How to Get Assault Charges Dismissed in Minnesota 


About the author

Gerald Miller

Gerald Miller is a top-notch and experienced DWI/DUI lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. in Minneapolis, MN. He has more than 35 years of experience in Criminal Defense practice. He has also been a mentor to numerous DUI/DWI defense attorneys.


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