Are laws different for children and teenagers than for adults?Are laws different for children and teenagers than for adults?

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Children who commit crimes are treated differently, depending on age. If a child commits a serious crime, he or she might be tried as an adult or as a juvenile, depending on the crime and the state. Sometimes a crime committed by a child and an adult will have very different consequences though. Often juveniles only go to a correction facility until they are 18 no matter how serious the crime, and then their records are sealed and they start over with a clean slate as adults.
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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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It should also be mentioned that for children aged 14 and up, if the crime is serious such as sexual assault, armed robbery or murder, then sometimes they can be tried as though they are legal adults, completely circumventing the juvenile legal system.

If convicted and sentenced to prison, however, the law prevents them from being held in the same section of the prison with adults.  Once they turn 18, they are then transferred to the adult section of the prison.

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wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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In the US, yes laws are different for different ages. For example, children must attend school until a certain age. However, the child will not be punished if they do not attend, rather the parent could face charges. It is assumed that a child will have some sort of guardian. That guardian can often be held responsible for certain crimes committed by the the child or criminal acts against the child, such as neglect. Children do not have the same self-control or mental capacities as an adult; therefore, they are viewed differently under the law. There are exceptions to this, of course. A child can file for emancipation and basically become their own guardian under certain circumstances. A child might also be charged as an adult if it is felt that the crime was particularly egregious. For instance, a child who commits a pre-meditated murder will likely be moved to adult court and no longer treated as a child under the law.
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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Actually, children and teenagers have every protection of the law that an adult has. As far as voting, contracting, consuming alcohol, children are presumed to be under a disability and incapable of exercising that right wisely, therefore they must wait to exercise it until the disability is removed by their coming of age. No one can reasonably argue that this qualification is a denial of rights. Because of their minority, the state often steps in to adjudicate juvenile offenders under the doctrine of parens patriae, meaning "in the form of a parent."

In terms of legal protection, children and teenagers have the same protections as an adult, including the right to be represented by counsel, and to remain silent. The U.S. Supreme Court in the case of In Re Gault 387 U.S. 1 (1967) in which a fifteen year old boy was accused of making lewd phone calls, and was sentenced to a juvenile detention center until his 21st Birthday illustrates the point. In reversing his decision, the Court, per Justice Abe Fortas, ruled that an adjudicatory hearing for a juvenile must be afforded the same due process rights under the Fourth, Fifth and Sixteenth Amendments as an adult:

It would be extraordinary if our Constitution did not require the procedural regularity and the exercise of care implied in the phrase "due process." Under our Constitution, the condition of being a boy does not justify a kangaroo court.

It should be pointed out that in some serious crimes such as murder, armed robbery, etc. most states allow the prosecution to move to try the defendant as an adult in adult court. In such an instance, the juvenile would be subject to adult punishment, although his age would preclude capital punishment.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This depends, of course, on the country that you are asking about.  In the United States, there are very different laws for those who are deemed to be adults and those who are not.

In general, there are two major differences.  First, children do not have the same sorts of rights that adults do.  For example, children may not vote, drink alcohol, or enter into contracts.  This is because they are deemed to be too young to handle any of those things.  Second, just as children have fewer rights, they are also held responsible for fewer things.  Up until a certain age (not the same age in all jurisdictions) a child cannot be held liable to the same extent that an adult is for a crime that they commit.  Typically, a juvenile offender can only be held for a crime until they come of age, regardless of whether the crime would have drawn a much more serious sentence if done by an adult.

So, children, at least in the United States, have fewer rights than adults, but also have fewer responsibilities under the law.

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jenniferjcthompson | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Actually, children and teenagers have every protection of the law that an adult has. As far as voting, contracting, consuming alcohol, children are presumed to be under a disability and incapable of exercising that right wisely, therefore they must wait to exercise it until the disability is removed by their coming of age. No one can reasonably argue that this qualification is a denial of rights. Because of their minority, the state often steps in to adjudicate juvenile offenders under the doctrine of parens patriae, meaning "in the form of a parent."

In terms of legal protection, children and teenagers have the same protections as an adult, including the right to be represented by counsel, and to remain silent. The U.S. Supreme Court in the case of In Re Gault 387 U.S. 1 (1967) in which a fifteen year old boy was accused of making lewd phone calls, and was sentenced to a juvenile detention center until his 21st Birthday illustrates the point. In reversing his decision, the Court, per Justice Abe Fortas, ruled that an adjudicatory hearing for a juvenile must be afforded the same due process rights under the Fourth, Fifth and Sixteenth Amendments as an adult:

It would be extraordinary if our Constitution did not require the procedural regularity and the exercise of care implied in the phrase "due process." Under our Constitution, the condition of being a boy does not justify a kangaroo court.

It should be pointed out that in some serious crimes such as murder, armed robbery, etc. most states allow the prosecution to move to try the defendant as an adult in adult court. In such an instance, the juvenile would be subject to adult punishment, although his age would preclude capital punishment.

Hello larrygates

What a travesty and injustice that the Guardianship of State (pertinent affront directed at all nations) would absolve itself of incompetence, inefficiency, gross neglect and gross violations of the rights of children and in cowardice resort to opinionated legislative manipulation evident within documentation as despotic escapism.Children do not create the world they inhabit.The Lord bless you.Jennifer J C Thompson nee Coetzee (Mrs)

 

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jenniferjcthompson | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

This depends, of course, on the country that you are asking about.  In the United States, there are very different laws for those who are deemed to be adults and those who are not.

In general, there are two major differences.  First, children do not have the same sorts of rights that adults do.  For example, children may not vote, drink alcohol, or enter into contracts.  This is because they are deemed to be too young to handle any of those things.  Second, just as children have fewer rights, they are also held responsible for fewer things.  Up until a certain age (not the same age in all jurisdictions) a child cannot be held liable to the same extent that an adult is for a crime that they commit.  Typically, a juvenile offender can only be held for a crime until they come of age, regardless of whether the crime would have drawn a much more serious sentence if done by an adult.

So, children, at least in the United States, have fewer rights than adults, but also have fewer responsibilities under the law.

Hello pohnpei I pose the question as a direct confrontation to general perception:Do children actually commit crimes? Should the connotations of criminal intent and motive be applied to children at all? By implication:should the actions of children be demeaned by the classification? I hold that children to the age of 10 cannot contrive evil, corrupt intent or actions of irregularity at all. The Lord bless you.Jennifer J  Thompson nee coetzee (Mrs)

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