Teenagers who are at least 14 can be transferred to adult court, though the process varies according to the defendant’s age. To transfer a 14-year-old child requires the blessing of a Juvenile Court judge, who must conclude the child is not amenable to rehabilitation. But older teens, 15 and 16 years old, can be transferred at the DA’s discretion if they are charged with specific serious offenses.
Before Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro took office in 2009, most cases that could have been transferred were not. Now, the opposite is true: Last year, Cannizzaro’s office transferred 75 percent of eligible cases to adult court and nearly 90 percent of cases involving 15- and 16-year-olds charged with armed robbery — by far the most common transfer-eligible offense in most jurisdictions.