Juveniles’ Competence and Procedural Rights in Juvenile Court

Abstract

The paper presents the analysis of a juvenile justice case. The defender’s duty is to protect the rights of the boy who stole a car, drove it without a license, and crashed it into a storefront. The paper is divided into several important chapters. At first, the juvenile defense process is described in detail with the use of scholarly sources. At this point, the advocate’s suggestions pertaining to the juvenile’s punishment are expressed. Next, divergences between juvenile and adult justice systems are enumerated and explained. Finally, judge sentencing considerations are determined. Each phase of the paper is supported by evidence from relevant academic literature. In conclusion, the main points are summed up, and the effect of the punishment measures on the juvenile’s future is discussed.

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Introduction

The juvenile justice system is different from the adult criminal justice one. The primary aim of dealing with juvenile delinquencies carefully is to allow young individuals to rethink their behavior and give them a chance to become law-abiding adults. The presented case is focused on a 15-year-old boy who stole a car, drove it without a license, and finally crashed it onto a storefront. While the act committed by the juvenile has not had any serious detrimental effect on anyone, it seems reasonable to release him on probation and set a minimal or next to minimal punishment.

Attorney Response to Mrs. Ingrim

Juvenile court is much milder than adult court, and it will be easier to handle your son’s case now than it would be in case he were a few years older. In each state, there are specifications as to defining the age of juvenile delinquents. However, the majority of states have set a higher age level for juveniles as 18 years old (Leiber & Peck, 2015). Thus, since your son is only fifteen, he is considered not to be on the juvenile-adult border yet.

The age of your son and the fact that he does not have past delinquency history are extenuating circumstances. Research reports that the decision-making processes of adolescents differ greatly from those of adults (Monahan, Steinberg, & Piquero, 2015). Only by the age of 16-17, youngsters develop cognitive abilities that are similar to those of adult individuals (Feld, 2014). Even so, self-control and judgment of 16- and 17-year-olds are not mature enough (Feld, 2014). Thus, we can defend your son and justify his actions based on these facts.

Juvenile Defense Process

The National Juvenile Defender Center, outlines several stages in the juvenile court process. The initial one is called the incident, which is the correspondent of arrest in the adult criminal justice system. Next, the child is either released to parents or detained (“Flowchart,” n.d.). The further stages are arraignment, adjudication, disposition hearing (child sentenced), and motion to expunge a juvenile’s record (“Flowchart,” n.d.). To ensure that each of these phases is handled properly, the lawyer needs to perform thorough preparation of evidence and be present at each of the steps.

First of all, it is necessary to make sure that the defendant is well mentally and physically and provide any help if necessary. Then, the attorney should collect evidence of the child’s previously positive behavior and request the release from the parents. It is highly important not to allow the client’s transfer into a criminal court. Evidence indicates that juveniles may be treated “punitively” in case of such a transfer (Taylor, 2017).

At the phase of arraignment, the advocate’s role is to make sure that no case details are used against the client. Also, at this point, the juvenile has to admit or deny the charges (Emerson, 2017). The counselor should explain the importance of sincere confession and recognition of the child’s guilt. At the adjudication stage, it is crucial to make sure that the judge has obtained all the necessary data so that the chances for release on probation should be increased. 200 hours of community service and 2 weeks in the county’s boot camp program will be a measure recommended by the advocate.

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Differences Between Adult and Juvenile Justice System

There are several major dissimilarities between juvenile and adult justice systems. First of all, the justice system views the crimes that are committed by juveniles and those committed by adults at various levels. In every U.S. state, the offense performed by an adult is considered as a criminal act, whereas for juveniles, the definition of breaking the law is “a specific delinquent act” (Leiber & Peck, 2015, p. 440). It is important to note that there is no unitary juvenile justice system in the USA, each state having its own regulations.

Another major difference is that adult courts presuppose a public trial by a judge while juvenile courts do not offer such an opportunity. To deal with juveniles cases, a judge typically gets acquainted with the evidence during an adjudication trial and makes a decision as to whether a delinquent act has taken place. As Feld (2014) and Hamack (2014) argue, such a regulation may have a negative impact on the young person’s chances of not being convicted. Still, such practice was suggested with the aim of protecting juveniles who are considered as vulnerable and immature in comparison with adults (Feld, 2014).

Finally, the juvenile court is largely directed towards rehabilitation, while the adult justice system is based on punishment (Monahan et al., 2015). For juveniles, the most typical convictions are probation (supervision by the community) and out-of-home (residential) placement (Leiber & Peck, 2015). There are two major reasons why keeping juveniles in prison is the last option selected by the judge. Firstly, the justice system tries to protect young people from the corrupting impact of adult offenders (Taylor, 2017). Secondly, attempts are made to guide delinquents and help them become law-abiding citizens (Taylor, 2017).

Judge Sentencing Considerations in This Case

When making a decision regarding the case in question, it is necessary to take into consideration the juvenile’s age and the seriousness of the crime that he has committed. According to Howell, Lipsey, and Wilson (2014), the majority of juveniles are not on a path leading to “adult criminal careers” (p. 7). Most delinquency cases are “self-correcting,” and some are “not serious, violent, or chronic” (Howell et al., 2014, p. 7).

The present case seems to belong to the described category, so the attorney’s suggestion to release the juvenile on probation seems reasonable. However, the court’s decision on punishment will not be minimal. Thus, the decided penalty is 4 weeks in the county’s boot camp program and 350 hours of community service. The motion to expunge the juvenile’s record may be requested upon his reaching the age of 17.

Conclusion

The presented case deals with the 15-year-old boy’s delinquent behavior. The child’s age is not on the verge of reaching the age which is legally acknowledged as an adult. Thus, the advocate has suggested minimal punishment rather than moving the case to criminal court. Taking into consideration the available research and case details, the decision made by the judge seems reasonable. The punishment is not minimal, but close to it, and the juvenile will have an opportunity to engage in correcting and self-correcting measures.

References

Emerson, R. M. (2017). Judging delinquents: Context and process in juvenile court. New York, NY: Routledge.

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Feld, B. C. (2014). Juveniles’ competence and procedural rights in juvenile court. In W. T. Church, D. W. Springer, & A. R. Roberts (Eds.), Juvenile justice sourcebook (2nd ed.) (pp. 167-192). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Flowchart of the juvenile court process. (n.d.). Web.

Hamack, B. (2014). Go directly to jail, do not pass juvenile court, do not collect due process: Why waiving juveniles into adult court without a fitness hearing is a denial of their basic due process rights. Wyoming Law Review, 14(2), 775-828.

Howell, J. C., Lipsey, M. W., & Wilson, J. J. (2014). A handbook for evidence-based juvenile justice systems. London, UK: Lexington Books.

Leiber, M. J., & Peck, J. H. (2015). Youth in the juvenile court and adult court. In M. D. Krohn & J. Lane (Eds.), The handbook of juvenile delinquency and juvenile justice (pp. 439-458). West Sussex, UK: Wiley Blackwell.

Monahan, K., Steinberg, L., & Piquero, A. R. (2015). Juvenile justice policy and practice: A developmental perspective. Crime and Justice, 44(1), 577-619.

Taylor, M. (2017). USA. In S. H. Decker & N. Marteache (Eds.), International handbook of juvenile justice (pp. 135-152) (2nd ed.). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

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