Can an 18-21 year old be adjudicated in juvenile court instead of adult court? Yes, as long as that 18-21 year old committed an offense while she was still a juvenile. Utah Code § 78A-6-103 states:
Why is this important? Because no one ever wants to be in the adult court system, especially when one is facing severe penalties that are mandated in child sex offenses. For example, a person under the age of 18 can be charged with Rape of a Child if, when he was 15 years old, raped a 15 year old. In adult court, this offense carries a mandatory punishment of 25 years-to-life in prison. It also carries the collateral punishment of being placed on Utah’s sex offender registry for life. Because of Utah Code § 78A-6-103, an 18-21 year old who commits such a serious offense when he was younger than 18 years old, gets the benefit of having his case handled in juvenile court. As such, the goal generally is to rehabilitate the person, rather than subjecting him to the draconian punishments in adult court.