Despite the decline of juvenile cases by 65% since 2014, the juvenile court still receives caseload every month. According to the National Center for Juvenile Justice, out of 100,000 people aged 10-17, there are about 3,000 facing juvenile cases. These cases include violent crimes like rape, robbery, and murder; property crimes like arson, burglary, theft; and other offenses like drug abuse, vandalism, etc.
Trends and Common Offenses in Juvenile Courts
A large majority of juvenile cases involve male offenders, but in recent years, a number of girls have entered the juvenile justice system. In fact, 27% of all juveniles in the US are females. In the research results released by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), it has been found that:
- 43% of teenagers drink alcohol, and 10% drives a car while under its influence
- 18% of youth carry a weapon
- 8% of youth attempt suicide
- 3% of juvenile cases are violent offenses
Procedures in a Juvenile Court Case
When you are under 18 years old and are suspected of violating the law, the case procedure you will be facing will be different from that which is used in an adult criminal court. The prosecutors and other juvenile court officials are under discretion to take a more informal step in handling your case. That is why there are a lot of young offenders that don’t reach the formal hearing. If you do go to a formal hearing, your case usually doesn’t get heard by a jury. Of course, this will depend on the state you’re in.
Some juvenile cases can be given to an adult court when a waiver is submitted. Cases that are subjected to a waiver are usually serious criminal offenses like murder or rape. You have the right to undergo a hearing to decide whether your case should be transferred to an adult court.
If your case remains in the juvenile court, you can fall under one of the following:
- You can enter a plea agreement and comply with certain conditions given by the judge.
- The judge can divert the case, and you will undergo a recommended program, e.g. counseling.
- You can undergo an adjudicatory hearing where they will examine if you are a delinquent or not.
Sentencing for Juveniles
Juvenile courts have a wide range of disposition orders or sentencing options if the offender is proven guilty. The court can confine the juvenile in a detention facility or place him or her under house arrest. Other than confinement, there are also counseling, curfew, probation, and reimbursement of the victim.
What You Should Do for Your Case
If you want to know your rights as a minor, you need to get your own lawyer. You don’t want to drag your case or get a more serious sentence than what you deserve. If you are in need of an experienced lawyer, you can contact Andrew Moses.
Although the state’s juvenile justice system is more lenient than that of the adult criminal justice system, a conviction is still a conviction. It will affect your life and your future. You should take the best course of action and schedule a meeting with a lawyer as soon as possible so you can protect your rights and plan for the most effective defense.