Juvenile Justice System and Juvenile Delinquency

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Updated: Aug 18, 2023
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Juvenile Delinquency is defined as the committing of criminal acts by a young person who is well below the age of being able to be prosecuted criminally. It is also referred to as juvenile offending. These behaviors are usually beyond the control of their parents or guardians, causing law enforcement to step in. Juveniles can never be convicted and sentenced to death or life in prison unless they are tried as an adult.

A status offender is defined as a juvenile being charged with an offense that otherwise wouldn’t be considered an offense if they were an adult.

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Some examples of this include drinking, smoking, staying out past curfew hours, or running away. Status offenders are usually not incarcerated for their first offense. Usually, they are given some other type of sanction, depending on the circumstance. Some officers may use the ‘counsel and release’ tactic, where they give them a warning not to repeat the same behaviours or any other behaviours for that matter and let them be free to go. They can also hold them until a parent comes to get them and release them into their custody with recognizance. If these measures don’t work or if there have been many offenses, they can then be referred to court.

Juvenile offenders are always referred to the courts by law enforcement. These cases could reach law enforcement through the contact of their family or through an arrest. The procedure for handling juvenile cases is slightly different from adults. However, they ultimately vary depending on the state and its court discretion. Initially, most juveniles that have gotten into trouble are instantly viewed as being delinquent, but some officials may be able to change that perception in their defence.

Once the juvenile reaches court, it is up to the officials as to what they want to do with the case, depending on many factors, such as the seriousness of the act, the juvenile’s age, amount of evidence for a potential case, and the gender of the offender. Statistically, about 20% of cases are dismissed, and 25% are handled informally, while the remaining 55% go through formal court proceedings. During informal cases, the juvenile may be subjected to counseling, paying a fine, or doing community service. If they do not follow through with their informal duties, the case can then be sent to court and be arraigned. A difference with juvenile court versus adult court is the terminology they use. They typically have similar or the same meanings but are simply worded differently. In most cases, during arraignment, the judge usually lets the offender remain in their parental custody unless they pose a threat or they believe they may leave town.

Once a minor is arrested, they must be given one of three options almost immediately, otherwise, they can’t be detained beyond 48 hours. At the police station, they are entitled to a call with their parent/guardian, as well as one with their attorney if possible or needed. If the minor is a repeat offender, they have no choice but to have a petition for a case filed.

Mental health problems are very prevalent among juveniles and often go unnoticed. It’s important to assess mental health conditions at the earliest signs. Many juveniles are inappropriately placed within the juvenile justice system; some may not understand their actions or may lack competency during questioning. Consequently, their statements may be used against them unfairly. It’s reported that over 70 percent of juveniles in the system have mental health disorders each year in the United States, equating to one in five juveniles out of the two million affected. If a juvenile is determined to be mentally impaired, they must be treated with care, and may require additional support to grasp their situation. The three most common disorders among these youths include emotional disorders such as mood swings and depression, anxiety disorders encompassing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia, and behavioral disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Before decision-making, proper testing and assessments should be undertaken to prevent these youth from being incarcerated if other rehabilitation options might present better outcomes for them.

If an adequate assessment is conducted beforehand to ascertain true mental incompetency, I do not believe juveniles should be charged or incur criminal records, especially not for a first offense. They should be referred to specialists and advised to seek counseling to address their issues. If the process is successful, it may have a positive impact on them. However, if they persistently repeat the same actions despite numerous treatment options, they should then be given a criminal record to prevent them from exploiting leniency.

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Juvenile Justice System and juvenile delinquency. (2022, Nov 16). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/juvenile-justice-system-and-juvenile-delinquency/