Juvenile sentences will always be handed out because, the truth is, juveniles will always commit crimes just as adults do. However, there are differences between the adult criminal system and the juvenile criminal system. To even be eligible for juvenile court, someone must be young enough to be considered a juvenile under specific state laws. Usually, this age in 18 in many states; however, in others it is as low as 16. Many states regard children who are older than 14 as capable of forming criminal intent. Therefore, children ranging 14 to 18 years old will usually be adjudicated in juvenile court. In a juvenile court case, the procedures will be much different than what you would see in an adult criminal case.
The police, prosecutors, and juvenile court judges have discretion over how they want to move forth with the case. There are many sentencing options involved in juvenile court such as sending the minor to a traditional juvenile detention facility or placing them under house arrest for their crime. Other punishments could include counseling, curfews, or probation but they will rarely result in prison time. The thing to remember is this: Juvenile delinquency cases are specifically designed for minors who have gotten into trouble with the law. If these same crimes had been committed by an adult, the matter would be seen in regular criminal court. However, specific juvenile court laws make this process much simpler on everyone involved.
- A juvenile is never guilty of an actual crime, per say, but instead a delinquent act. A delinquent act must be very serious to be considered a crime and be tried in adult court.
- Juveniles do not have a public trial by jury. No, the judge will instead hear evidence and make a ruling at an adjudication hearing.
- After the juvenile is deemed delinquent, the court determines what happens next instead of looking forward to punishing like in the matter of an adult. The goal in the juvenile system is to rehabilitate the juvenile and serve their best interest.
- Juvenile courts tend to be more informal.
- There is a better likeliness that a judge will decide to keep the juvenile out of jail and instead place them on probation, parole, or a diversionary rehabilitative program.
There are, of course, mostly huge differences between the adult criminal justice system and that of juveniles. However, both systems help members retain many of the same rights. Here are some similarities that you may see between the two:
- Both have a right to an attorney when needed.
- Both have the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses.
- Both have the right to notice of the charges.
- In both cases, the prosecution must prove reasonable doubt before either one is convicted.
If you are involved in a juvenile delinquency case, it is probably in your best interest to retain an attorney who has experience in these specific cases. They will help you stand by your rights. The criminal law system can be complex and complicated, especially for a young adult who is unfamiliar with the laws. Call The Law Office of Peter Blair today for more information.