Similarities and Differences in Juvenile and Adult Justice Systems

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Similarities and Differences in Juvenile and Adult Justice Systems

When a juvenile is arrested and charged with committing a crime there are many different factors that will come in to play during the course of his arrest, trial, conviction, sentencing, and rehabilitation process. In the past we tried all criminals as adults. There was no distinction made between adult and child. Over the years we have come to realize the need to separate these two groups, as they are two distinctly different populations with very different physical and psychological needs. The separation of adult and juvenile courts finally allowed us to make separate and distinct rules for each population. Now it seems like once again the lines between the two populations are becoming blurred. With juveniles committing more and more serious and violent crimes and being sentenced and tried in adult courts it becomes difficult again for us to distinguish between these two populations. Through the course of this paper I will compare and contrast the two court systems from the process of arrest and trial to sentencing and attempt to rehabilitate.

The separation between adult and juvenile begins at the time of arrest. At the time of arrest, police must make a decision whether to release the juvenile offender or make a referral to the juvenile court. "Cases involving serious crimes against property or persons are often referred to court. Less serious cases, such as disputes between juveniles, petty shoplifting, runaways, and assaults of minors, are often diverted from court action" (Siegel 401). In most states the policies and procedures of arrest are the same for both adults and juveniles. However, police generally have more authority to control youthful behavior than adult behavior. This broadened authority allows the police to act "in place of the parent" and place the juvenile into a protective form of custody rather than a punitive form of detention. Once arrested, juveniles still retain their Fourth and Fifth amendment rights, just as an adult would. Under the fourth amendment they are protected from unreasonable search and seizures, just as any other adult would be. Likewise they are also protected under the Miranda rights, just as an adult would be. There has been some debate over whether juveniles have the right to waive their Miranda rights without the presence of an attorney or a guardian. While most courts do allow juveniles to waive their own Miranda rights some mitigating factors include the age of the offender, the child's education, the child's knowledge of the charge, and whether or not the child has been allowed to consult with family and friends (Siegel 403).

Once the decision has been made to press formal charges against the juvenile offender, a decision must be made either to release the child into the custody of parents or to detain the child in the temporary care of the state. "Nationally, about 70 percent of all states have detention centers administered at the county level; about 34 percent have state-level facilities, 16 percent have court-administered facilities, and 11 percent contract with private vendors to operate facilities" (Siegel 427). Once an adult offender is arrested, they are either issued a citation and a notice to appear in court, or they are taken to jail. Adult offenders usually remain in custody until they can post bail. Juvenile offenders are typically released into the custody of their parents or guardians unless they are deemed a threat to themselves or society, or a risk for a runaway. Trial and pre-trial processes for juveniles also differs greatly from that of adults. While adults are assured the right to reasonable bail in non-capital cases, most states refuse juveniles the right to bail. Furthermore, the state has the right to detain dangerous youths until their trial in what is known as preventive detention. Once a petition is filed against an adult they usually must...
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