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Juvenile Court Jurisdiction At A Glance

Juvenile Court Jurisdiction At A Glance

While Federal law defines a minor as anyone younger than 18, juvenile arrests can only be made for certain age ranges within the entire population. In other words, there are minimum and maximum limits to who may be petitioned to appear before a juvenile court. Imaginably, the very young are generally not considered to be mentally aware enough to be culpable for any offenses committed at their developmental level, and realistically, the likelihood of them committing a serious crime is slim to none.
As for the maximum age of jurisdiction of juvenile court, this, along with the minimum age, is maintained by the states. In accordance with Federal law, most states have set the age of majority at 18, but others have lowered the age by which an individual may be tried in a criminal court. Then again, there are also procedures by which juvenile rights may be extended beyond the age of 18, sometimes until the age of 21 or even farther.
Age is not the only factor by which juvenile arrests in one State may fail to earn an offender a trip to juvenile court. Rather, juvenile rights may be negated in certain jurisdictions for certain charges, especially for grievous offenses such as murder, rape and assault. Just the same, some juvenile arrests that originally brought a child to criminal court may see them transferred back to juvenile court by a process known as “reverse waiver.”
Then again, under likewise special conditions, specific offenses may seemingly arbitrarily prevent a child from receiving the protection of juvenile court. Judges across the United States have been particularly tough on children possessing and/or operating firearms and other dangerous weapons.

Make Sure You Know About Juvenile Record

Make Sure You Know About Juvenile Record

To even discuss whether or not juvenile records are a good or bad thing, it is necessary to understand what one actually contains. As noted, a juvenile record involves a summary of a minor’s legal history, including petitions made to bring him or her to juvenile court based on allegations of juvenile offenses, as well as any motions, appeals, findings, and results of juvenile court hearings. In addition, though, a juvenile record features a social history of a delinquent child, including notes on his or her family (when applicable), educational performance, exposure to/abuse of illegal drugs, neglect, and abuse.         
Seeing as a sizable amount of the above information may be considered of a sensitive nature, it is understandable that young people involved in detention centers and courts might wish to see their juvenile offenses and other details hidden from public view. Thankfully for their sake, juvenile records are sealed upon children’s entry into adulthood to facilitate their desire to make a clean break. This is indicative of the prevailing attitudes toward privacy in juvenile law; after all, juvenile court sessions are usually held in privacy.
The idea that a juvenile record may be barred from public access is controversial, and some states have even legislated against such policy. The reasons are numerous, but one criticism of closed records is that juveniles are not being held accountable for their juvenile offenses, especially those that are more serious. Especially for potential victims of misdeeds, this provides little solace that justice is being done.
Moreover, professionals invested in a child’s welfare may be able to use the details of a juvenile record for good. For example, social workers and family caseworkers may benefit in having a detailed legal and social record at hand for the sake of recommending their placement in a permanent home with an adoptive family or under Government auspices as a resident of a State-run facility.

Kent v. United States

Kent v. United States

Today, the prevailing line of thinking surrounding juvenile court stems from the case of Kent v. United States, which started humbly enough in juvenile and criminal courts before being appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court. Truly, Kent v. United States started a wave of reform to juvenile cases in terms of their resemblance to more adversarial courts.
Some notes on this landmark event in juvenile law history:
If we are to fully understand the import of this case alongside other juvenile court cases before and after, it would be advantageous to know the specifics of the backstory. At the time of first being arrested, 16-year-old Morris Kent, a resident of the District of Columbia, was detained for a number of charges, including “housebreaking”, robbery and rape.
Throughout these juvenile cases tried in adult courts, Kent and his representatives maintained that the procedure employed by legal authorities was unjust, specifically with regard to the way he was remanded to a higher court without prior warning. While this may seem like a moot point to some, considering the seriousness of the charges and the fact Kent was found guilty of some of them, the Supreme Court elected to hear the case in 1966.
To the surprise of some, the Court overturned the appeals court’s decision and found instead for Kent, citing the hasty nature of the original juvenile court’s move to yield jurisdiction to a criminal court without a notification hearing for the defendant’s sake.
The implications for juvenile court cases were and still are considerable. At a purely logistical level, as a result of the majority decision in Kent v. United States, juvenile cases nationwide are required to invoke a preliminary hearing to apprise suspected minor offenders of the charges brought against them and the forum in which a child’s legal claim will be processed. More than this, though, Kent v. United States helped to apply semblances of due process to juvenile court cases and serves to keep courts’ actions as governed by parens patriae in check.

Quick and Easy Guide to Juvenile Court Legal Representation

Quick and Easy Guide to Juvenile Court Legal Representation

In securing a juvenile lawyer, quality should be a
defendant’s top priority. Of course, a minor and his or her family might
already have connections to a juvenile attorney through blood relation or past
experience, but if not
, any hired legal professional will be an
experienced in-court advocate for children and very knowledgeable about the
subject of juvenile law. Then again, the inability of minors and/or their
parents to afford an outside juvenile lawyer may be a limiting factor
.
In that event
, a court-appointed representative should be
better than none at all.

 

It should be noted that a juvenile attorney will not
be available in all cases
. Only defendants who face being remanded to the custody of
a state-run facility will generally be able to have legal representation in
their corner.

 

A juvenile attorney may not have to be directly
involved in the case to lend a hand to parties. Under the doctrine of amicus curiae (i.e.
“friend of the court”), a particularly knowledgeable and interested
legal representative not
a party to the hearing may submit briefs
through the court to help bring to light relevant information heretofore
unconsidered. Expectedly, it is up to the individual court to decide whether or
not to permit these materials.

Make Sure You Know The Reasons for Different Treatment

Make Sure You Know The Reasons for Different Treatment

Though incidents of crimes committed by minors is
lamentable from a moral standpoint, some concerns about juvenile arrest and
juvenile sentencing are more practical in nature. Regarding juvenile arrest,
though formal indictment on a charge may bring children to a juvenile court
specially designed to rule on juvenile law, there is no such thing as a
juvenile policeman or policewoman. Police officers are tasked with questioning adults
and children alike in investigations.

 

In bringing a child into the station for this purpose, by
law he or she must be informed of his or her rights as a resident of the United
States. Still, interrogations are by nature a confrontational environment, and
realistically, children may feel pressured or coerced to offer information or
confess to a crime to avoid the discomfort of this situation. Thus, along with
a hired attorney, a child’s parents/guardians will often be required to
accompany him or her during questioning.

        

Regarding juvenile sentencing in court, it must be
stressed that the mission of most juvenile courts is to rehabilitate delinquent
children who are not of the legal age of full responsibility, with the vague
notion that poor decision-making tends to come along with youth and this effect
may only be exacerbated by prolonged periods of detention. By virtue of this,
as juvenile arrest
s may not necessarily lead to juvenile court,
so juvenile sentencing often does not involve incarceration or relocation from
one’s home to a facility, but rather orders for probation and community service
that still may prove to be positive influences in minors’ development.

Quick Overview of the Juvenile Court

Quick Overview of the Juvenile Court

Right off the bat, juvenile courts and criminal courts differ from their very intent. With the latter, as far as prosecution is concerned, the idea is to accuse an individual or party of one or more crimes, indict them on those charges, and prove their guilt to a jury of the defendant’s peers beyond a reasonable doubt. If found guilty, the defendant should receive a sentence proportionate to his or her crime.
In juvenile court, on the other hand, it is not the State’s constituents’ best interests that are represented, but those of the child’s which must be assessed. In fact, juvenile courts do not necessarily have to hear a response to a criminal complaint. Certainly, a child could be at risk of delinquency, and thus, must need to formally appear before a judge, but their physical, mental and emotional health could be at risk as well, necessitating swift intervention on the part of the courts.
A concept which is ever-present in juvenile law and juvenile court is the doctrine of parens patriae, roughly translated as “the state as parent.” A juvenile court shares certain identifying features with a “regular” court of law. Yet, by the same token, juvenile courts have some notable departures from the template of their adult counterparts.
As hinted at, a juvenile court judge is the ultimate arbiter of any prescribed course of action, not a jury. Moreover, while most criminal courts operate for all the world to see, the affairs of juvenile courts are made private for the sake of the child and the sensitive information therein.