Juveniles Charged and Tried as Adults

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 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.
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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. Some examples of this include drinking, smoking, staying out past curfew hours, or running away. Status offenders are usually not incapacitated for their first offense. Usually they are given some other type of retention, depending on the circumstance. Some officers may use the ‘counsel and release’ tactic, where they give them a warning not to repeat the same behaviors or any others 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 don’t work or its been many offenses, they can then be referred to court.
Juvenile offenders are always referred to the courts by law enforcement. It could reach law enforcement through the contact of their family or through arrest. The procedure for huddling juvenile cases is slightly different from adults. However, they ultimately vary depending on the state and their court discretion. Initially, most juveniles that have gotten into trouble are instant viewed as being delinquent but may officials may be able to change that in their defense.
Once the juvenile reached court, it is up to those officials what they want to do with the case, depending on many factors, such as; the seriousness of the act, the juveniles 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 subject 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 terms 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 skip town.
Once a minor is arrested, they must be given one of the 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 with juveniles are very prevalent, and sometimes go unknown. It is important to determine mental capacities at early stages of presence. Many juveniles are placed in the juvenile systems when they really shouldn’t be; some may not have even known what they were doing at the time, or when being questioned, they didn’t have full competence. Therefore, what they say would be held against them unfairly. There is a reported 70 plus percent of juveniles in the system with mental disorders every year in the United States. This translates as everyone in five juveniles out of the two million are affected. If a juvenile is determined to be mentally impaired, they must be approached cautiously and may even require additional assistance for helping them understand the situate they are in. There are three most common disorders amongst these youth. They include emotional disorders, such as depression and change of moods, anxiety disorders which include PTSD and schizophrenia, and behavioral disorders such as ADHD. Proper testing and assessments prior to decision making should be taken to avoid these youth being incapacitated, when other options of rehabilitation may be the better choice for them.
If proper testing is done prior to determine true mental incapacity, I don’t believe juveniles should be charged and have criminal records, especially not for a first offense. They should be referred to specialists and seek counseling to help them deal with their issues. If done successfully, I don’t see why it wouldn’t have a positive impact upon them. In the case where they continue repeating the same actions regardless of multiple treatment options, then yes, they should be given a criminal record so that the lenience doesn’t get abused.       

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