Juvenile vs. Adult Criminal System
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How Does the Juvenile Criminal System Differ from the Adult System?
The criminal justice systems for adults and juveniles differ in many significant ways. There differences vary from state to state, but in general:
- Juveniles are not prosecuted for committing crimes, but rather delinquent acts. When the delinquent acts are very serious, they may be considered crimes and the juvenile may be tried in the adult system.
- Juveniles don't have a right to a public trial by jury. For a juvenile charged with a crime, the trial portion of the case involves a judge hearing evidence and ruling on whether or not the minor is delinquent. This is called an adjudication hearing.
- Once the juvenile has been deemed delinquent, the court will determine what action should be taken. This stage differs from the adult system in the purpose of the action. In the adult system, the goal is to punish. In the juvenile system, on the other hand, the goal is to rehabilitate and serve the minor's best interest.
- Juvenile courts are often more informal than those for adults. For example, rules about the admissibility of evidence may be more lenient.
One of the main differences between the juvenile and adult justice systems lies in their overall aim. For the juvenile justice system, the main aim is to rehabilitate and reform the juvenile offender so that they can resume functioning normally in society. Thus, the focus is more on alternative sentences that keep the juvenile out of jail, such as probation, parole, and diversionary programs.
What Are Some Similarities between the Two Systems?
Though the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems have significant differences, there are also similarities between the two. Most importantly, individuals in both systems retain many of the same rights. These include:
- The right to an attorney
- The right to confront and cross-examine witnesses
- The privilege against self-incrimination
- The right to notice of the charges
- The prosecution must provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt before a person can be convicted
Do I Need an Attorney for My Juvenile Delinquency Case?
If you are accused of a delinquent act, you should speak with a criminal defense lawyer immediately. The criminal law system is complicated, and the consequences involved can be great. An experienced attorney can help you learn more about your rights and defenses.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 02-20-2015 02:18 PM PST
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