How Does Juvenile Court Work Your Complete Guide

How Does Juvenile Court Work Your Complete Guide
How Does Juvenile Court Work Your Complete Guide

A key part of any good speech that we give is research. We are the ones who are responsible for taking the time to determine all of the facts that we want to present to our audience in our speech. Research is not an easy thing to do correctly. We need to take the time to uncover all of the facts and understand how they link together. In order to help you do a good job of this the next time that you are creating a speech, here is an example of how you could collect the data that you needed in order to deliver a speech on how the juvenile court works.

First things first, the jury’s out. In most cases, hearings involving juveniles are heard by judges only.

There were just over eight hundred thousand juvenile arrests two years ago. Most were for theft or assault. Not all led to a juvenile court case.

Those that did would have usually gone through a process that’s very different to the one for adults. Here’s how it all works.

The Powers of a Juvenile Court

Every state has special courts to handle minors. These juvenile courts are used when young people are accused of violating a criminal statute. In these cases, a victim does not bring charges against the accused.

Any crime would be considered a wrong against the State. So it would be the people of the State who would file any charges. The proceedings are civil and not criminal.

Rather than being charged with a crime, minors are accused of committing an offense or delinquent act.

Decisions Made by the Juvenile Court

A prosecutor or probation officer would normally file a civil petition. This would lead to the juvenile being charged with violating a criminal statute. The charges may then be proved and a decision made that an offense has been committed.

The young offender would then come under the court’s control. The juvenile court has the authority to do what it thinks would be in the best interest of the offender.

Those Eligible for Juvenile Court

In most states, a young person is considered a juvenile if they are seventeen or under. This applies at the point that they allegedly broke the law, were arrested or referred to juvenile court.

Not all states define a juvenile as a person younger than 18. For example, five states, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Texas, and Wisconsin draw the line between juvenile and adult at age 16.

To understand more about how the rules apply in your jurisdiction, consider consulting an attorney. View here to find out more about experienced lawyers in Maryland who can explain the process as well as providing representation.

All states have transfer laws that can let or even require young offenders to be prosecuted as adults. This would apply in more serious offenses, regardless of age. There are four forms of transfer laws.

  1. Statutory Exclusion
  2. State law excludes some types of cases involving minors from juvenile court. Murder and serious violent crimes are the most common exclusions. These would normally be heard in an adult criminal court.

  3. Judicially Controlled Transfer
  4. All cases against minors start in a juvenile court. If necessary, they must then be transferred by the juvenile court to the adult court.

  5. Prosecutorial Discretion Transfer
  6. Some cases have both juvenile and criminal jurisdiction. That means prosecutors may choose to file in either type of court. The choice is considered to be within the prosecutor’s discretion.

  7. ‘Once an adult, always an adult’ Transfer
  8. The law requires prosecution in the adult court when a juvenile has been criminally prosecuted before. This is normally regardless of whether the current offense is serious or not.

Younger Offenders

Most states do not consider children under the age of seven as being capable of determining the difference between right and wrong. These children are usually excused from any responsibility for the offenses they commit.

Most states would consider children aged fourteen and above as being capable of forming criminal intent. Most cases involving young people aged fourteen to seventeen are adjudicated in juvenile court.

What happens to children between the ages of seven and fourteen? It’s usually up to a judge to decide if there’s a case to be heard.

Cases Heard in Juvenile Court

Not all cases heard in juvenile court involve a crime being committed. There are two other types of cases. These are dependency cases and status offenses. Different procedures usually apply to all three types of cases.

Juvenile Delinquency Cases

These cases involve minors who are accused of committing crimes. This means that if the crime had been committed by an adult, the case would have been heard in a normal criminal court.

Juvenile Dependency Cases

Cases which involve minors who have been abused or neglected by their parents or guardians are also heard in juvenile court. A judge would normally decide if the minor should be removed from a problematic home.

Cases Involving Status Offenses

A status offense is one that applies only to juveniles. These would be things like skipping school, running away, and sometimes alcohol offenses.

Common Offenses in Juvenile Cases

Only a small percentage of cases which involve violent offenses begin in juvenile court. These would be things like rape, murder, and aggravated assault. Most cases are related to theft, drug abuse, and curfew violations.

The procedures in a juvenile court are very different from those in adult criminal court. Those in authority, from the police to juvenile court judges, have a degree of discretion to take more informal steps when handling the case.

Because of this, many young offenders may never reach the point of a formal adjudicatory hearing.

The constitutional rights of juveniles are also different from those of adults. This applies when they’re accused of committing a crime. In most states, juveniles do not have the right to have their cases heard by a jury.

Juveniles can though sometimes ask for a hearing to determine if their case should be transferred to adult court. This would normally be only in very serious cases.

Sentencing in Cases Involving Minors

Juvenile courts have many types of sentencing options. These are known as disposition orders. Courts can confine the juvenile in several ways.

They could send the offender to a traditional juvenile detention facility. They could also place the juvenile under house arrest.

Juvenile courts can also order punishments or treatments that do not involve confinement. These could include counseling, curfews, and probation.

Understanding the Court System

Juvenile court works in a different way to adult court. There can be variations between different states over the age that someone is considered a juvenile. It’s always best to consult a lawyer who can guide you through the process.

Continue reading our blog where you’ll find many more articles related to the law and the court systems.