Most children have a mischievous streak, but sometimes it goes too far and turns into criminal behavior. Since children don't belong in a penitentiary with adults, young people generally have a greater chance of a shot at rehabilitation. There are special rules and procedures to handle juvenile crime and juvenile cases.
This section contains articles that describe the development of the juvenile justice system. It gives basic information about the implications of juvenile records and offers examples of the most common types of juvenile offenses, such as vandalism and shoplifting.
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA)
At this time, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act is the most critical federal legislation affecting youth offenders nationwide. The JJDPA provides a nationwide advisory system in all states, territories, and the District of Columbia. The Act also has federal funding for delinquency prevention and improvements in state and local juvenile justice programs and practices.
What Is Parens Patriae?
Parens patriae is a Latin term meaning "parent of his country." It is a doctrine rooted in the family court system. It is often used to refer to the state as the “parent" of the juvenile or other incompetent person. JJDPA provides the basis for prosecution for "status offenses." These offenses include truancy, possession and consumption of alcohol, curfew violations, and the purchase of cigarettes.
The legal theory is that these actions harm underage minors. Thus, law enforcement authorities and the courts should protect minors from such activities.
Detaining a Juvenile
Law enforcement officials may arrest or detain a juvenile for a felony offense or misdemeanor. Unlike criminal cases, the police do not have to witness a misdemeanor to take the juvenile into custody at a juvenile detention facility. They only need probable cause to believe a crime was committed. They can even arrest upon reasonable cause to believe the minor is a truant.
Juveniles Standing Trial as Adults
Having a minor stand trial as an adult in a superior court is a highly controversial topic in the country, particularly when considering the severity of the crime. The court will set the bail terms for the criminal offense if the child meets certain conditions while in juvenile detention. The officer can transfer them to an adult detention center. The offenses often relate to severe crimes or violent crimes.
The juvenile court's authority over that case is then terminated. Once tried and convicted of criminal charges, any sentence of incarceration is to an adult facility. Likewise, any probation is supervised by probation officers who supervise adult offenders.
Raise The Age (RTA)
New York State has raised the age of criminal responsibility to 18 years of age as of October 1, 2019. Before RTA, New York state was one of the remaining states that allowed 16-year-olds to be criminally responsible as adults. However, RTA changed the age of criminal responsibility to 17-year-olds as of October 1, 2018, and to 18 years of age as of October 1, 2019.
Blended Sentencing as an Alternative
To fill the gap in sentencing between juveniles and adults, States legislated the blended sentencing provision, which served as an alternative when dealing with violent juveniles. In some cases, the provisions allow the juvenile offender to avoid adult sentencing. This applies in particular if the juvenile offender complies with the juvenile sentence.
Blended sentencing has five basic models. These models are:
The juvenile courts simultaneously impose both adult and juvenile correctional sanctions, but the adult sanction is suspended in case of no revocation or violation.
The juvenile courts impose sanctions involving either the adult or the juvenile correctional system.
Juvenile courts impose a juvenile correctional sentence that will stay in force beyond the age of extended jurisdiction. Some procedures can be invoked to transfer the case to the adult correctional system in certain states.
The criminal court imposes both adult and juvenile correctional sanctions. The court suspends the adult sentence unless the individual commits a new offense or violates a condition of probation.
The criminal court can impose either adult or juvenile correctional sanctions.
These blended sentencing rules show ongoing innovation and debates—mainly focusing on how to punish juvenile offenders and ensure the juvenile's mental health.
Alternatives to Juvenile Incarceration
The juvenile court system has several sentencing alternatives at its disposal. The phrase “community-based alternatives" refers to a wide range of approaches for youth in the criminal justice system. They aim to limit how often youth get involved with the juvenile justice system and how frequently they get incarcerated. Alternatives include probation, vital community programs, community service, evidence-based treatment programs, and other approaches.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
Navigating the complexities of criminal law, particularly when handling juvenile delinquency offenders, can be daunting. Juvenile offenders have extra rights compared to adults in adult criminal court. Thus, it is recommended to seek the advice of criminal defense lawyers.
Criminal defense lawyers can provide legal advice in handling juvenile criminal offenses. This applies to those facing serious crimes or those who want to expunge criminal records. Expungement means that they will delete all records of wrongdoing. This will give your child a fresh start. Speak with a criminal defense attorney near you today.