Juvenile Offenders: Everything You Need to Know

Arrested Teenager With Handcuffs

Juvenile Offenders: Everything You Need to Know

Juveniles are citizens younger than the statutory age of majority, usually between the ages of 10 and 18. When juveniles commit crimes, they are tried differently than adults for the most part. This is especially true if the child comes from a past of abuse or parental neglect in which may have been lacking support and guidance. While the court tries to save juveniles from a lifetime of seeing jail cells, it isn’t always possible. Juveniles can still commit serious crimes and, in certain cases, the court has to try them as adults. Due to the complications of serious cases involving juveniles, usually, the law allows courts to determine the penalties on a case-by-case basis. If you have a juvenile in the court system, or you know a troubled child and want to be informed, keep reading for the basic information you need to know regarding juveniles in the justice system.

Arrest Procedures Depend on the Officer

Most often, juveniles are charged with misdemeanors, which are typically minor offenses, and the arresting officer will most often call the parents and release the juvenile to their custody without taking the child to the station. While this doesn’t mean the juvenile won’t be charged, it means that the child can be at home while they wait for the hearing date. On the other hand, arresting officers may choose to send the juvenile to a detention facility. When this occurs, it’s not usually for small, one-time crimes. It’s for serious crimes like stealing or violence, and often, for minors with a history of crimes. It also takes place if the officer cannot locate a responsible adult to claim custody of the minor.

Bail Isn’t Usually an Option

With adult crimes, the defendant will usually have the option to apply for bail so that they don’t have to sit in jail to wait for their court date and they can instead spend the time at home. Juveniles, on the other hand, are not allowed bail. When a juvenile is held in detention, a hearing will typically be scheduled shortly after the arrest takes place. And if a hearing isn’t set for the near future, the judge has the power to release the minor to a parent or guardian. The adult the minor is released to is then asked to promise to bring the juvenile to his or her court date. For serious charges, a juvenile may be forced to wait in the detention facility.

Juvenile Hearings Have Separate Rules

Unlike adult hearings, juveniles do not have the right to jury in trials. The judge will decide alone of their guilt and sentence. Most often, the juvenile’s hearing is closed, although it can sometimes be open to the public. In some states for juvenile felony charges, the courtroom is open to the public just like an adult trial.

Juveniles Can Be Tried as Adults

Although there are different rules and methods for juvenile and adult charges, juveniles can be tried as adults. The decision to try a minor as an adult is decided at the first hearing. The crime must be a felony in almost all cases, and some states don’t allow children 14 years of age and younger to be tried as adults. But some cases like murder don’t give the judge the choice of how they may wish to try the minor, and the juvenile will always be charged the same as an adult. The law dictates that for these serious cases, all defendants 16 and older must be tried as an adult. In many serious cases with juveniles, the judge will order a mental health evaluation to try and decide if the child would benefit from counseling and rehabilitation rather than being sent to an adult prison.

For more information about the justice system in California and to learn more about your rights and the rights of a loved one for receiving bail, contact Armstrong Bail Bonds and read the other helpful articles on our blog.