Law and Politics

Start Free Trial

How are juvenile cases processed and how does the juvenile justice system differ from the adult system?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Criminal cases in which the defendant is a minor, which means under 18 in most states, are typically tried in the juvenile justice system. Though these cases would be considered crimes in adult courts, in juvenile courts they are called “delinquent acts.” Because the goal of the system is to...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Criminal cases in which the defendant is a minor, which means under 18 in most states, are typically tried in the juvenile justice system. Though these cases would be considered crimes in adult courts, in juvenile courts they are called “delinquent acts.” Because the goal of the system is to help the minor correct delinquent behavior and avoid a criminal record, the sentences differ from those of adults in that they generally involve rehabilitation rather than punishment. Thus, minors convicted of “delinquent acts” are far less likely than adults to receive jail time and far more likely to receive sentences that involve probation and monitoring, community service, and counseling programs. Sometimes, juveniles are placed in diversionary programs before they go to trial. Diversionary programs are sometimes called pre-trial interventions and they involve a period of probation as well as a rehabilitation program, such as one that teaches anger management or provides alcohol and drug counseling.

Minors accused of delinquent acts are tried in courts that are specifically for juveniles. The rules of conduct in these courts are more lenient than in adult courts, and the courtroom procedures are more informal. For one thing, minors are not tried by a jury, but rather, their cases are heard by a judge. This hearing is called an adjudication hearing. The judge determines whether the minor committed a delinquent act, and if so, he or she is placed in a rehabilitation program. In the juvenile justice system, the emphasis is to act in the best interest of the person accused.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team