How the Juvenile System Works

If you have a run-in with the law and you are under 18, then the rules will be quite a bit different then if someone who was already considered an adult. Now, if the crime is considered severe enough and the perpetrator is close enough of an age to adulthood then they may still be tried as an adult. However, for the most part, being charged as a juvenile will come with a lot of differences then what an adult will experience. Here is a breakdown.

The courts take a less severe stance when it comes to prison

If you are arrested and under the age of 18, this is especially true if you have no previous record, there is in general, a softer overall view to how a defendant should be punished. A judge will often be more understanding a show more leniency when it comes felonies and will look to see if they can go for lesser charges. Law enforcement officers are also more willing to release a juvenile to their parents or guardians instead of having the juvenile detained. The courts will also be more open into trying to understand why the juvenile may have been behaving this way and more time will be spent to look into if there is any past history of abuse or neglect. The overall mission of is to try and keep minors from becoming habitual criminals who may go on to spend years in prison if not intervened. That said, however, if the minor has already been given multiple chances or the charge is too severe to be lenient, especially if the charge was violent, the judge may have no choice but to bring forth charges as an adult.

Juveniles are not offered the option of bond

When a juvenile is arrested, bail is usually not set.  Minors are often released to their parent’s recognizance, meaning that the parent or guardian is being held responsible for the behavior of their child until their court date and to make sure that the minor attends all of their hearings.  However, just like with an adult, if the crime that was committed was serious enough, bail will not be set and they will be held in a juvenile detention center until their hearing.

Juries are not involved in juvenile cases

Hearings in juvenile cases are also different from those of adults.  Instead of a judge hearing the arguments of both parties and handing down a sentence after the jury decides whether the accused is guilty or innocent of the charges, in a juvenile hearing the judge makes both the decision of guilt or innocence and decides the punishment.  Additionally, while most adult hearings are open to any member of the public, hearings involving minors are often closed. 


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