What is Juvenile Delinquency?

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 What Is Juvenile Court?

Juvenile court is the court system that oversees the complaints against children who are alleged to be delinquent. A delinquent act is when a child engages in criminal behavior. Juvenile courts can adjudicate children as delinquent and impose consequences that seek to rehabilitate them rather than punish them.

Juvenile court proceedings are meant to be more informal and protective compared to a criminal trial. The adjudication of juvenile delinquency is not considered public information and cannot be accessed without a court order.

Depending on the case and the circumstances, the procedures will vary. It will be determined by the court whether or not the crime was committed and how to move forward in rehabilitating the minor. Your attorney can assist you more regarding specific charges on your case. If the minor is charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, the consequences will vary.

Who Is a “Juvenile?”

According to the North Carolina courts, a juvenile is any individual under 18. Different states can have broader definitions of this term or more narrower ones. A juvenile is a minor. A “delinquent juvenile” is a child at least 6 but under 18 years of age who commits an offense that would be a crime if committed by an adult. This does exclude the motor vehicle offenses committed by 16 and 17-year-olds.

Another term used in the juvenile system is “undisciplined juvenile.” A child under 16 also may be considered an “undisciplined juvenile” if the child is unlawfully absent from school. There are distinctions between a delinquent junior and an undisciplined juvenile.

The delinquent juvenile commits actual crimes, while only minor offenses or inappropriate behavior is displayed by an undisciplined juvenile. Most cases involving allegations against children between the ages of 6 and 17 are within the original jurisdiction of the juvenile court.

However, any traffic or motor vehicle incidents involving a 16 or 17-year-old must be charged as an adult. This is rarely the case; juveniles under 18 must be charged as adults if they are emancipated or have a prior criminal conviction in adult court for certain offenses.

In other cases, some juveniles can be called a “transfer.” This means that at age 13 or older if the juvenile court judge finds probable cause that the juvenile committed a felony offense, they will be transferred to an adult criminal court for a transfer hearing.

Is an Adjudication of Delinquency the Same as a Criminal Conviction?

An adjudication of delinquency in juvenile court is not a crime conviction. As stated earlier, it does not cause the juvenile to forfeit citizenship rights, and it is not a public record. The assigned lawyers will explain the options to the minor as needed. There are more resources available on LegalMatch.com for your local area.

The attorney will assist the juvenile in deciding how to handle the case. The juvenile has autonomy in determining whether or not to admit responsibility, request a hearing, or testify at a hearing. The lawyers must listen and assess the path of the juvenile, not the parents. Remember that all client (juvenile) and lawyer conversations are private and protected. For this reason, attorneys meet with juvenile clients without a parent or guardian present.

What Is the Goal of Juvenile Justice?

Minors accused of committing a crime are tried under the juvenile justice system. Jurisdictions may vary on the procedures of the court. However, there are some familiar procedures with the adult criminal justice system. These processes include arrest, detainment, petitions, hearings, adjudications, dispositions, placement, probation, and reentry.

The juvenile justice process functions according to the fact that youth are fundamentally different from adults. Therefore, this needs to be reflected in their level of responsibility and potential for rehabilitation.

However, the adult justice system operates with sentencing for a serious crime and following with a guilty verdict. This usually means some prison time. However, the juvenile justice system seeks to avoid incarceration whenever possible. They want to encourage better behavior among the youth through rehabilitation.

The main priorities of the juvenile justice system, including maintaining public safety, are to develop skills, habilitation, rehabilitation, address treatment needs, and successful reintegration of youth into the community. Restoring the youth through education and programming is a major goal for the juvenile justice system. It is meant to redirect the minors into making better decisions and choices for their future.

A successful case for a minor is when there is a learned experience. Meaning they can understand the reality of their consequences and poor choices. The youth can understand the severity of an adult prison without exposure, deterring them from having any future contact with the juvenile or criminal justice systems.

Additionally, many youth involved with or at risk of being involved with the juvenile justice system have co-occurring life difficulties with significant impacts on their emotional, mental, physical, and behavioral well-being. The juvenile system is based on the belief that youth must have meaningful opportunities and resources to enhance their growing minds. The purpose is to promote better behavior and assist them in achieving realistic goals for their future. The youth must be integrated into society, not segregated from their communities.

What Are the Some Challenges of Juvenile Justice?

Although goals and purposes are set for the juvenile justice system, they are not necessarily fulfilled in all cases. While it has made progress, our nation’s juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem still faces urgent challenges, such as racial eth­nic dis­par­i­ties according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The statistics of juvenile youth are alarming. The black youth nation­wide was in confinement at four times the rate of white youth in 2001; by 2017, the Black rate of con­fine­ment had grown to 4.5 times the rate for white youth.

Globally, the Unit­ed States confines more youth than any oth­er country does. Accord­ing to the 2019 Unit­ed Nations Glob­al Study on Chil­dren Deprived of Lib­er­ty, the U.S. youth con­fine­ment rate was four times high­er than Cana­da and Mex­i­co. Furthermore, it was 10 times high­er than cen­tral and east­ern Europe and 12 times high­er than west­ern Europe. These rates are troublesome, and there needs to be more involvement from our national leaders to improve this situation.

Moreover, the correctional confinement facilities have become dan­ger­ous and prob­lem­at­ic rather than reha­bil­i­ta­tive. Juve­nile pro­ba­tion, the most com­mon response to delin­quen­cy, many times does not oper­ate while adhering to best practices, as research shows conducted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Approximately 400,000 per year are in on some form of juve­nile pro­ba­tion. But, research reveals that pro­ba­tion is inef­fec­tive in revers­ing delin­quent behav­ior. Many U.S. youth are arrest­ed and referred to court, and not enough youth are divert­ed from court fol­low­ing arrest or refer­ral. There needs to be more invest­ment in “effec­tive com­mu­ni­ty-dri­ven diver­sion inter­ven­tions to assist youth who are suf­fer­ing with trau­ma, fam­i­ly crises, and seri­ous behav­ioral health chal­lenges and to pre­vent their slide into seri­ous delinquency,” as stated by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

When Do I Need to Contact a Lawyer?

Juvenile Delinquency is a serious problem across the nation. The juvenile system wants to encourage better behavior through rehabilitation.

However, these goals are not carried out in the actual process. If you have a minor involved with a crime, reach out to a local juvenile attorney near you to develop a strategy to move forward. It is important to resolve this immediately to ensure that the youth does not fall behind in their education and other opportunities.

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