Why Juvenile Courts Must Be Operated Differently From The Adult Courts?

Published: 2021-07-19
627 words
3 pages
6 min to read
Harvey Mudd College
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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Traditionally, juvenile justice system proceedings were accorded equal treatments as those of the adults. Until the better part of the twentieth century, most children were subjected to similar penalties as adults and these included capital and corporal punishments and hard labor. However, it is widely an acknowledged fact that there are efforts all over the world to have juveniles subjected to a different criminal justice system that is distinct from those of the adults putting into account their inexperience and their immaturity. As such, the juvenile offenders are characteristical, dealt with differently that of the adults and treated much less harshly as their adult counterparts.

The response given to juvenile offense is both a unique practice and challenging policy. While there is a substantial proportion of crime perpetrated by a good number of juveniles, most of them grow out of the offense and adopt the law-abiding nature and lifestyles as they get to mature. There are a number of reasons, biological, social and psychological that necessitates the need to have the juvenile courts operated differently from the adult courts. A number of arguments point to the factors such as juvenile immaturity, propensity to risk taking, as well as the susceptibility to peer influence and intellectual incapacity together with victimization and mental illness are some of the reasons why juveniles get motivated to engage in crime and thus getting into contact with the juvenile justice system. Notably, the said factors, coupled with their unique ability to get rehabilitation demand for intensive and expensive interventions which can only be met by the juvenile justice system, hence the difference when it comes to treatment and response to the administration of juvenile justice (Johnstone, 2016, March).

The significant factor that influences policy decisions insofar as juveniles are concerned depends on the seriousness of the crimes committed. A number of studies point to the fact that there are non-legal factors like the race of the youths, their class, sex and perceptions of the officers regarding the demeanor of the children in question. The two process functions of a juvenile court that operate differently than the adult courts include the criminal procedure and detention procedures (Johnstone, 2016, March).

Criminal procedure

While handling juveniles, the police issue warnings to the juveniles prior to their interrogations and even issue warrantless searches that would yield evidence to the violations (Lehmann, Chiricos, & Bales, 2017).

Detention procedure

A school or police referral to the juvenile offender can be realized without detention. Detention refers to the temporary custody or jailing of the juveniles awaiting their disposition of cases. Most of the state laws demand that detention hearings before the court of minors judge can hear the case. The reason behind this is to arrive at a decision on whether or not; they want to release the child to their parents or have them in their custody (Lehmann, Chiricos, & Bales, 2017).

In the event that the police reach a decision to refer the juvenile offender to court, the case first goes to the probation officer who then decides whether the juvenile qualifies to have a petition. This is called intake and thus entails an examination of the previous criminal records of the juvenile and the seriousness of the crime at hand. Notably, the officer at this stage is always known to have serious discretion when arriving at such decisions.


Lehmann, P. S., Chiricos, T., & Bales, W. D. (2017). Juveniles on Trial: Mode of Conviction and the Adult Court Sentencing of Transferred Juveniles. Crime & Delinquency, 0011128717714203.

Johnstone, P. (2016, March). Emerging developments in juvenile justice: The use of intervention, diversion and rehabilitation to break the cycle and prevent juvenile offending. In Judicial Review: Selected Conference Papers: Journal of the Judicial Commission of New South Wales, The (Vol. 12, No. 4, p. 455). Judicial Commission of NSW.

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