Children who are charged with a crime are treated differently from adults in the judicial system. In juvenile courts, the main goal is to rehabilitate young people to ensure that they become productive adult members of society. Adult criminal courts are more focused on administering punishments and protecting society from dangerous individuals. In light of these goals, juveniles are offered certain protections that adults don’t necessarily receive. One major advantage for juveniles who are charged with crimes is that records of their juvenile offenses are sealed. If certain criteria are met, juveniles may also have their records cleared altogether when they turn 18. This is very helpful for the child to be able to establish a normal life as an adult. Adults with criminal records may find it difficult to do certain things like get a job, buy or rent property and get custody of their children. At the same time, adults are protected by certain constitutional rights that children don’t have. For example, minors do not have the right to a trial by a jury of their peers or a public trial. A judge will typically decide whether the child is guilty and what the consequences should be with the best interest of the child in mind. Juveniles also don’t have a right to bail. However, they may have the right to pretrial release if their acts were not violent in nature. Court procedures differ between juvenile courts and adult criminal courts and those differences can have a huge impact on the outcome of a case. Young people who are facing criminal charges should know that generally, the juvenile court system is much more supportive than criminal courts for adults.
Source: FindLaw, “How do Juvenile Proceedings Differ from Adult Proceedings?,” accessed on May 11, 2015