An adult and a juvenile can commit the same crime, at the same time, and in the same state, but ultimately will be handled very differently. The entire process from the arrest, to the court proceedings, to incarcerations is different when involving a juvenile. Often juveniles are handled much more lenient, even though that may not be the best way to handle each case.
One of the largest differences lies in the terminology. When dealing with juveniles the act is termed “act of delinquency.” When an adult is booked it is referred to as a “crime.” In this early stage of labeling, the juvenile’s background such as school record is taken into consideration, but with an adult this is not a factor when deciding upon what steps should be taken after the illegal act has been committed.
When handling a juvenile arrest, many of the procedures are different than when dealing with an adult. A minor is taken into custody rather than being arrested. The juvenile then has a petition filed against him or her. In juvenile court they either agree to the finding or deny the petition. With an adult, the offender must plea either guilty, not guilty, or no contest. When dealing with juveniles, the case can have adjustments made to the case, but in the adult proceedings this is called a plea bargain. After the juvenile agrees to the findings, the court decides to place the minor into a detention center, which is away from the adult offenders. After the courts make their decision, the juvenile faces a fact finding hearing. In adult cases, this is referred to as trial. After the fact finding hearing, the minor faces the charges and decision made by the courts. The sentence for a minor can range from being detained in a youth detention facility to rehabilitation through a counselor or probations officer.
Along with the many different steps and terminology used in juvenile court, the offenders’ age, severity of the crime committed, and background are all taken into consideration. Often adults face sentencing based on what the law states should be done after such crime is committed rather they are 20 or 60 or if this is the first crime committed. The juvenile is protected much more in court proceedings than an adult is.
Even though there are several differences regarding the process through which a juvenile and adult offender goes through, there are some similarities. In both minors and adults cases, police officers, correctional employees, and attorneys play an intricate role. Many of the steps are similar even though they may be handled slightly different depending on the age of the minor. However, once an adult reaches his or her hearings, the court is not as interested in rehabilitating the individual like they are in juvenile court. With an adult the focus is more on retribution and the fact that society does not agree with committing an illegal act.
There are many differences between juvenile and adult arrests, booking, proceedings, and sentencing. Often time’s people think that minors should be tried as adults, and occasionally this does happen depending on the age of the minor and the act committed. There are some that believe juveniles are handled too leniently. However, most of these differences between juvenile and adult court procedures are in place to protect the minor and hopefully rehabilitate them at a young age so that they may turn into successful and productive adults within their community.