The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that over 200,000 juveniles are prosecuted for criminal acts each year in the U.S. However, the majority of these prosecutions do not end with imprisonment, as do most adult crimes. A juvenile crime, also known as delinquency or youth crime, is when a person between the ages of 10 and 16 – 18 (depending on the state where the crimes were committed), commits an illegal act that would be considered a criminal act if performed by an adult. An exception to this rule is if an older juvenile commits a serious or violent crime, he could be tried as an adult—even though he would normally be considered a juvenile.
So what are the differences between adult and juvenile crimes?
Sizing up Crimes Based on Age
The distinction between the actual crimes committed when it comes to juvenile and adult crimes is pretty much non-existent besides age. For example, if a 40-year-old committed armed robbery, he’d be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and most likely receive jail time. However, if a 15-year-old committed the exact same crime, his consequences would be drastically different.
Although the crimes are the same, courts use different terms for juvenile offenders than for adult offenders, juveniles have different constitutional rights than adults, and judges must follow certain guidelines when sentencing a juvenile in order to act in the best interest of the child.
- Juveniles commit “delinquent acts" instead of "crimes."
- Juvenile offenders have "adjudication hearings" instead of "trials."
- Juveniles' adjudication hearings are heard by judges instead of juries, because a youthful offenders peers cannot be subject to jury duty.
- Juveniles do not have the right to bail or to a public trial.
- Juveniles’ records are sealed, and are generally erased once they turn 18 in order to keep their offenses from haunting their futures—unlike adult crimes.
- Juvenile sentencing is meant to primarily rehabilitate the youthful offender so he can have a better future. Unfortunately, adult prosecutions are more adamant about punishing the guilty, not necessarily rehabilitating him.
Getting Your Child the Help He Needs
Just because your child is young, or has made some mistakes, doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have proper representation. You can make sure that he gets the advice, guidance, and justice that he deserves by contacting us today. Our extensive knowledge, experience, and drive, will not only provide you both with the legal support needed, but will also help make sure he is fairly sentenced. Call today to speak with an experienced lawyer on your child’s behalf.
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