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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.

Is Death Penalty Legal?

Is Death Penalty Legal?

For a brief span in the 1970s, the death penalty as a whole was made illegal in this country. In 1972, a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court in the case of Furman v. Georgia found that capital punishment violated the Eighth Amendment.
Gregg v. Georgia overturned this universal prohibition of execution, stating that the death penalty was only unconstitutional if it did not give proper consideration of the character of the defendant or other potential mitigating factors along these lines. While these cases did not specifically address capital punishment as a consequence of juvenile crimes, they address the tension between the legality of the death penalty and one’s fitness for State-sponsored death sentences.
It would not be until 1988 that the juvenile death penalty was to be abolished, at least in part. That year, the ruling of the Supreme Court in Thompson v. Oklahoma superseded the rights of states to execute for juvenile crimes committed under the age of 16, again citing the Cruel and Unusual Punishment standard. However, this was only a partial victory for child’s rights activists. By national standards, it was still perfectly acceptable to sentence someone to die who was 16 or older, a fact confirmed by the majority decision of Stanford v. Kentucky a year later.
In 2005, the juvenile death penalty was outlawed for all juvenile crimes and all juvenile criminals, not just those under the age of 16 or mentally handicapped persons. Once again, it was the Supreme Court that found the practice to be unconstitutional in its decision in Roper v. Simmons, noting in its findings that few states even applied the juvenile death penalty consistently.

Make Sure You Know The Implications of Certain Severe Offenses

Make Sure You Know The Implications of Certain Severe Offenses

Atrocities in which children commit grave crimes are, in terms of absolute numbers, rare. However, the shocking nature of these acts nonetheless makes them all the more notable in the eyes of the public, as some people worry purportedly isolated cases are anything but, rather reflecting dangerous trends toward juvenile delinquency. As outlined by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and others, a juvenile offense, that is, one committed by someone 18 years or younger or an individual who has not yet reached the age of majority in that State, may not be prosecuted as such.
Along the lines of thinking of many, for some juvenile violent crimes, the character of the crime is grievous enough to outweigh considerations of protection under juvenile law. In its tallies of arrests per year of underage crime, the OJJDP may very well consider a juvenile offense of this ilk to be a “violent crime.” Such charges that may earn this distinction include robbery, assault, statutory rape, manslaughter, and murder.         
As noted, a particularly severe juvenile offense or a pattern of criminal behavior may take a child out of juvenile court where he or she would have been protected by the nature of the court to find for a non-criminal punishment. Severe juvenile violent crimes may be prosecuted to the full extent of the law in a criminal court subject to the opinions of a jury of average people. Moreover, these proceedings may be open to the public if the minor is tried as an adult, so the accused juvenile will not be spared anonymity.
In terms of repercussions and sentencing, a bone of contention with child rights advocates, some guilty parties may earn themselves a trip to State or Federal prison with adult convicts based on the severity of their crime. In fact, some who commit juvenile violent crimes may be sentenced to life without parole.

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.