One of the most typically confusing elements of the system is jurisdiction.
It is not always certain ahead of time — not certain based on age, at least — whether a child will face trial in the juvenile or superior courts.
There are some relative certainties, however. Georgia is one of five states that sets the maximum age limit for juvenile court at 16, whereas the other 45 states place the age limit at 17.
However, not every defendant 16 years of age or younger will automatically have a trial in the juvenile system. The rules for what happens to defendants under 16 who have committed serious crimes are somewhat complicated.
In some cases, prosecutors have discretion on whether to refer the case to the superior court. In others, the higher court automatically has jurisdiction.