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Juvenile court is usually available for minor children who commit crimes. While charges against minors are still criminal in nature and are subject to punishment, they are different from crimes committed by adults.
1. Juveniles Can Be Convicted Of Delinquent Acts
If a juvenile commits an act that would be considered a crime if it was committed by an adult, it is known as a delinquent act. Being charged with a delinquent act is not the same thing as being charged with a crime.
These acts are tried in juvenile court, and upon a finding of guilt, the juvenile is “adjudicated delinquent” rather than being convicted or found guilty of a crime.
Juvenile court differs from adult court. Juveniles usually have a hearing in front of a judge, and they do not receive a jury trial nor are they eligible for bond.
However, those who go through the juvenile system rather than the adult system may be able to have their records sealed.
This means the records will not affect future career or education prospects, and the juveniles do not have to go to adult jails (though in some circumstances they may need to go to a juvenile detention center).
2. Juveniles Can Sometimes Be Tried As An Adult
While many crimes committed by juveniles can be tried in juvenile courts, some crimes are considered too severe to allow the juvenile to enjoy the benefits of juvenile court.
For example, those who commit murder are always tried as adults, even if the crime was committed by a minor.
There are other circumstances which can result in a conviction as an adult as well.
If the minor is over the age of 15 and used a deadly weapon during the commission of the crime, the case may be tried in adult court.
Also, if the minor has been previously adjudicated delinquent of certain offenses, then a subsequent criminal act will result in trial as an adult.
These offenses include:
Kidnapping, aggravated assault, robbery, rape, voluntary manslaughter, aggravated indecent assault, or involuntary deviate sexual intercourse (or conspiracy or solicitation to commit any of the aforementioned crimes).
3. Some Cases Can Be Transferred From Adult Court To Juvenile Court
If a person is being charged in adult court for a crime that is eligible to be transferred to juvenile court, an attorney can request that the charges be dismissed and refiled as a delinquent act in juvenile court.
When this request is made, the judge presiding over the case in adult court will examine several factors to determine if the transfer is appropriate.
She will consider the age of the defendant at the time of the crime, how serious the crime is, whether the defendant will be rehabilitated through the juvenile system, and the impact the crime has on the community.
If the judge declines the request, then the case will sty in adult court and the defendant will be tried as an adult.
4. The Juvenile System Is Designed For Rehabilitation
Crimes have steep punishments which are designed to serve as a deterrent to criminal acts.
Therefore, when an adult is convicted of a crime, the sentence received is aimed at punishing the criminal.
When a juvenile is adjudicated delinquent, on the other hand, the sentence received is aimed at rehabilitation of the juvenile so that he or she does not commit additional crimes in the future.
5. Summary Offenses Are Not Tried In Juvenile court
A summary offense is a minor offense. These can include certain traffic violations, retail theft of an item valued under $150, and underage drinking.
These crimes are lesser offenses than misdemeanors and felonies, therefore they are tried the same way for all defendants regardless of age.
Those charged with summary offenses usually appear in front of a district judge to receive sentencing and punishment.
While adults can be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail for some summary offenses, a minor will not face jail time.
If the minor violates any terms of deferment or probation related to the summary offense, he or she may need to appear before a juvenile court for additional punishment.
Contact The Law Office Of Marni Jo Snyder Today
If you or your child is facing a charge that will be heard in juvenile court, or if you are wondering if your case can be transferred from adult court to juvenile court, contact the offices of Marni Jo Snyder today to discuss your case.
Marni Jo’s knowledge of education law and special education rights is an asset in juvenile court. You want a lawyer who persuades judges that education can be part of rehabilitation rather than placement or transfer to adult court.
Any involvement with the legal system is a delicate matter, especially when a minor is involved. Contact our offices for a free consultation to discuss your case at 215-515-3360 today.