Being Charged as an Adult in Georgia

Part 1: SB-440: Automatic Transfers to Superior Court

 In 1994, Georgia enacted State Bill 440 (more commonly referred to as SB-440) to “provide that certain juvenile offenders who commit certain violent felonies shall be tried as adults in the superior court. This SB-440 law granted adult courts exclusive jurisdiction over criminal cases involving juveniles (ages 13-17) who are charged with one or more of the following “Seven Deadly Sins”:

  1. Murder
  2. Armed Robbery with Firearm
  3. Rape
  4. Voluntary Manslaughter
  5. Aggravated Sexual Battery
  6. Aggravated Sodomy
  7. Aggravated Child Molestation


O.C.G.A. 15-11-560(b)

In essence, juveniles (age 13-17) charged with one of the above-mentioned crimes in Georgia will automatically have his or her case  transferred from juvenile court to superior court, where he or she will be charged, tried, and punished as an adult. If convicted and sentenced to prison, the juvenile will not be sent to a Youth Detention Facility through Georgia’s Department of Juvenile Justice. Instead, the juvenile will be housed with other juvenile inmates in the custody of Georgia’s Department of Corrections until he or she reaches the age of 17 and is thrown into the general prison population.

Occasionally, at the discretion of the prosecutor, a SB-440 case may be transferred back to juvenile court after “after investigation and for cause” if the case has not been indicted yet. By contrast, after indictment, a SB-440 case can only be transferred to juvenile court for “extraordinary cause.” O.C.G.A 15-11-560(d), O.C.G.A. 15-11-560(e). Therefore, time is of the essence when it comes to advocating for the case to be transferred back to juvenile court.

If you know someone charged as an adult with an SB-440 crime, PLEASE contact us at the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith. We would be happy to help you with your case and answer any and all of your questions about juveniles charged as adults.