First, the paper highlights the issues entailed in criminal justice system and its responsibility in providing assistance to defendants, victims, and their families to find justice they need. The purpose of this essay is to depict how criminal justice, which involves juveniles, incorporates law applicable to individuals under the age and responsible for criminal acts. In most cases, those who fall within this category are below 18 years, and the state governs the law that protects the juveniles. This essay will also highlight various terms used in juvenile justice and the ways tribunals operate in handling adult and juvenile cases. The essay seeks to answer the questions regarding the trial of juveniles in adult courts and the determining factors when applying justice to juveniles. For this reason, the report includes the methodology used in determining the answers to the questions. The report will also entail findings found and the recommendations as advocated by the author.
Jurisdiction of the Juvenile Courts
The transfer of the juvenile defendants from the juvenile courts to the criminal courts has been a trail in the past. The grounds on which this has been justified traditionally is that the juvenile courts are ill equipped to handle the offenders who belong to a wide age gap. It is however recommended that in case a juvenile court relinquishes its jurisdiction, it leads to transfer of juveniles to adult court. There is however a need to treat the juveniles differently from the adults, as is assumed in the United States. This is because some of the crimes committed by these juveniles are non-violent, such as running away or violating the curfew rules in order to enhance justice. We need to understand that it is vital to categorize minors and adults in different courts to enhance justice. Therefore, a separate justice system for juveniles has to be created. This step is significant because it makes it easier for courts to handle the cases and treat the convicts fairly in relation to their ages (Sickmund, 2003).
In criminal justice, a separate system for juveniles is vital, as it handles cases by dividing juveniles into three categories. The first group includes delinquent youths who engage in criminal acts that involve felonies and misdemeanors. The second category of youths under the juvenile court jurisdiction has a status of offenders. The minors under this category indulge in offenses that would not define as crime when committed by adults. A good example involves escaping home, curfew violations, and truancy. This point explains to the reader why in criminal justice, there is a need of two tribunals to handle the cases of adults and children separately due to their nature. The third category of juvenile justice handles cases involving dependent and neglected minors. This involves deprived youths who need supervision and support. It is however noted that a large percent of youths involved in crime fall under the delinquents category.
Juvenile courts are tribunals that pass judgments for offenses committed by adolescents and children under the age of majority. This implies that the cases committed by minors and children involve different treatment when contrasted to crimes committed by adults (Scott, 2008). For instance, this paper incorporates various subjective examples of offences committed by juveniles and their punishments. Committing offences such as drug abuse can subject the minor to rehabilitation form of punishment, where they undergo corrections while engaging in community services (Sickmund, 2003).
However, in cases where the offences are severe, such as gang related acts or murder, courts treat the crimes committed by juveniles the same way as they would handle adults. The readers should also understand that the court presses similar charges as to adults for juveniles who commit other serious offences such as rape or robbery. This implies that, in criminal system, juvenile courts have no jurisdiction over cases that involve minors charged the same manner as adults (Deitch, 2011).
Before the case reaches the court, it is passed through the probation officer in the intake unit, whose main purpose is to decide whether there is any cause to file a petition against the accused youth. Some of the reasons for such a decision may be the past criminal record and the seriousness of the offense. In case the officer finds no cause for a petition, he may place the youth on the informal probation or refer him or her to the community agency.
In the informal probation the youth is supervised by the police to ensure he or she does not violate the conditions which could lead to filing the petition. In the court, during the adjudication, the juvenile affords the right to notification of the charges, to cross-examine and confront any witness, and a right for a counsel or a lawyer. The trials are informal and closed to other parties other than the accused and the accuser. However, there is the basis of parens patrie, where the juveniles are denied the full access to the constitutional protections (Haugen, 2009).
Sentencing for Juvenile Offenders
The juveniles can be sentenced indeterminately. This allows the juveniles to serve the sentence until they are 19 years old. This involves placing the juvenile in probation, where he will be supervised. The judges also have the option of imposing a determinate sentencing. This allows for a longer sentence than the previous one. This could range from staying in the juvenile system for some time, to give the judge a chance to impose a longer sentence that will see the youth get transferred to an adult prison system, or reevaluate, if the youth will be a threat to the public safety after reaching the age of 19. Lastly, the judges have an option of waiving the jurisdiction, a process called certification. This involves transferring the youth to the adult criminal court; however, it is recommended that full investigations are done and a credible hearing is done to prove that the juvenile committed the crime and is a threat to the rest (McCord, 2001).
Prevention Act in Juvenile Delinquency
In case the probation officer denies the move to file a petition, the juvenile is placed on an informal probation (Deitch, 2011). Here, the police or the probation agency is given the responsibility of monitoring and supervising the youth for the specified period of time. In the probation, the agency makes sure the rule of the probation are well adhered to, otherwise impose the juvenile to a juvenile court if he or she breaks the rules. In addition, this act saves the youth from becoming delinquent and provides training in occupations that leads to technical assistance in a given field.
There are also vital terms that readers need to know concerning criminal justice that relate to juveniles. The first term is delinquency, which refers to offences that minors commit, or juvenile behavior that is out of accord with accepted law (Scott & Steinberg, 2008).
Dependency is another term used in juvenile justice, which involves non-parental individuals participating in cases by taking care of the minor (Scott & Steinberg, 2008).
Detention is jailing adolescents temporarily while waiting for disposition of their cases. The state laws incorporate the need of detention hearing before the judge can hear the juvenile case. The main purpose that detention serves is to give room for decision making .The decisions made relate to whether the youth should be released to the parents or remain in the custody of the police. Several other reasons accompany the detention of youths awaiting their cases to be handled. The youths are detained as a form of punishment to ensure that they show up during the presentation of their case in the court, and also as a preventive measure. The preventive measure involves preventing them from committing other related crimes that could harm them or harm other people (Scott & Steinberg, 2008).
This is a process in which delinquency cases are moved from the juvenile courts to the adult criminal courts. The decision to transfer is made at a transfer hearing (Scott & Steinberg, 2008).
This refers to the unit that decides whether a petition ought to be filed against a specified juvenile. The person who works in the unit is known as the probation officer. The police normally approach him in the instances where they decide not to handle the case but rather to proceed to court. The probation officer determines the probable cause that may render the accused youth guilty of the crime (Scott & Steinberg, 2008).
In order to help gather the data required to enhance the information on this report, a few literature reviews were carried out. The literature review focused on the laws and policies that governed the juveniles in Texas. Also, a keen analysis was done on the court proceedings and formalities that are carried out. In line with the sentencing of the juveniles, the sentences that the judges employed on some of the cases were reviewed (Deitch, 2011).
In matters concerning the juvenile justice, they venture more into rehabilitation rather than punishment. In the area of certification, for instance, the number of the juveniles who are certified as adults is higher than those that are given the determinate sentences.
The figure above represents the number of the certifications compared to the number to determinate sentences carried out for the period of five years. The data shown depicts that in the year 2010, the number of adult certifications in Texas amounted to 229, while that of the determinate cases amounted to 108 juveniles. All throughout the period, the number of the certifications was found to be higher compared to those of the determinant (Deitch, 2011).
I also found out that some of the factors that are considered during the sentencing in the juvenile cases include the age and gender found out in Texas. For one to be administered the determinate sentence or to be certified, he or she should have been below 17 years old at the time the offense was committed. Also, the determinate sentences were certainly legal for ages commencing from 10. If the sentence is not administered by the time the youth reaches 10 years old, then the court has no jurisdiction to carry out the sentence. It was also found that the males dominated the certified juveniles compared to the females.
Gender of the certified and determinate sentence juveniles for the years 2005 to 2009
No. Certified juveniles
% of certified juveniles
No. of determinate juveniles
% of determinate sentences
The table above represents the number of males and females that were either certified as adults or were given the determinate sentences in Texas for the period of five years. It is clear from the figures above that a higher number of males dominated in the certified juveniles as well as the determinate juveniles. Other factors that determined the type of the sentence but were not researched on include the criminal offense itself, the ethnicity, and the history of the accused (Deitch, 2011).
In order to ensure that certification only occurs when the crime committed is serious enough, the extent of crime eligible for the certification of the accused juvenile should be left to the violent offenses. Also, juveniles should always be recognized as minors despite the crimes committed and, hence, should not be transferred to the adult courts. This is due to the consequences that follow as a result of sentencing them in an adult case. The only instance that they are eligible for the transfer is when they have been previously sentenced to the probation and have not improved or have attained the age of 18 in the course of the probation. The judge is normally left with the responsibility of determining whether to prolong the sentence or terminate it. If the juveniles are sentenced in the adult court, it is also recommended that they are convicted in the juvenile centers and not the adult ones, at least until they have reached the age of 19. I would also recommend that a further research is done on the administration of the justice system on the juvenile cases to aid in acquiring recent events. This will also help in gathering correct data on the number of the juveniles certified as adults.
In conclusion, the juvenile system should be treated and governed differently from the adult system. This is because juveniles should be treated as minors and not subjected to harsh treatment that may injure their character or morale to live. Age and gender are also significant factors that determine how tribunals handle cases of adults and juveniles. The common law requires juvenile court to handle a minor accountable for crime from a minimum age of seven years. The study has also outlined the jurisdiction that lies with the juvenile, including stating where the court has no jurisdiction, that is, when the youth has attained the age of 19. The study has also outlined the various sentencing options and the reasons behind the sentencing. However, more research should be done to validate the recent events in the system.
- Gerstenfeld P. B. (2006). Criminal justice. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press.
- Haugen, D. M., & Musser, S. (2009). Criminal justice. Detroit, MI: Greenhaven Press.
- Hubner, C., & Pruitt, S. N. (2005). Juveniles (2005/2007 ed.). Austin, TX: Texas District & County Attorneys Association.
- McCord, J., Widom, C. S. & Crowell, N. A. (2001).Juvenile crime, juvenile justice. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
- Scott, E. S., & Steinberg, L. D. (2008).Rethinking juvenile justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Sickmund, M. (2003). Juveniles in court. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
- Deitch M. (2011).Juveniles in the adult criminal justice system in Texas.
- Austin, TX: The University of Texas at Austin, LBJ School of Public Affairs.