Juvenile Criminal Court

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11/8/2012|

Juvenile Criminal Court

Before the establishment of the juvenile criminal courts, there was not much need for them. Life was very different and children often were under their parent’s supervision. As a parent, you had ultimate responsibility and control over your child. The parents were the only ones who would punish a child for their actions and the court system was content with that. It was not until later years that the courts had to intervene due to heinous crimes being committed by youth which was no longer just a household problem, it became a community problem. As times continued to change, so did the parent’s ability to constantly supervise their children all day long, and lack of supervision and attention is often what lead minors into bad situations. What started off as a household problem, later turned into a community problem, which lead to the formation of the Juvenile court system that exists today (Grant, 2003). In the United States, there are two justice systems, the juvenile system and the criminal system. In the event that a minor knowingly commits a crime, he or she is held responsible and will face consequences; a process which is rendered through juvenile court (Schmalleger, F. 2009) .The juvenile court system was created to protect minor’s rights as well as the safety of the public. In the last few years there have been some really strong arguments made in favor of abolishing the juvenile court system however, before considering that idea, it is important to understand the differences between the juvenile courts systems and the criminal court systems, the definition of what it means to be delinquent, and what may be some probable causes of a child becoming delinquent. Thereafter, it will become evident on the importance of the juvenile court system and how abolishing it can be harmful to our society. There are many differences between the juvenile court process and the adult criminal court process. The differences are purposely done in this manner to protect the minor and to protect the public from criminal activity. The juvenile courts are focused on rehabilitation and helping the minor. Criminal courts are used to punish the adult and ensure justice is served. Juveniles are not prosecuted for committing crimes, but rather delinquent for committing a bad act. When the delinquent acts are very serious, they may be considered crimes and the juvenile may then be tried in the adult system (criminal court). In juvenile court, the state represents the minor and in adult court, the state is trying to prove the adult is guilty of committing the crime. Minors in juvenile court are not entitled to trial with a jury of peers as adults are (Winn, 2007). There is also no bail for minors; they only have to prove that the minor is not at flight risk or a danger to society. Juvenile court is not open to the public like adult court is. Juvenile court also has different terminology than adult court. For example, in adult court the adult is usually referred to as the defendant whereas in juvenile court, he or she is always referred to as the minor. In juvenile court, a person is not “guilty” but called “delinquent” instead. Also, a sentencing hearing is called a disposition hearing in juvenile court (Schmalleger, F. 2009). Once a juvenile has been deemed a delinquent, the court will determine what action should be taken, this differs from the adult system because in the adult system the goal is to punish. Juvenile hall would be the equivalent to jail, and reformatory or reform school would be the equivalent to prison. Juvenile court is often more informal than that of the criminal court. For example, rules about the admissibility of evidence may be more lenient, whereas in criminal court it is not. Juvenile cases are sealed so that they can live out the...
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