Scenario: You are interviewing for a position as a law enforcement officer who will be expected to interact regularly with juveniles and adults. The hiring committee wants to choose a candidate who can write clearly and who demonstrates a solid understanding of standard procedures in the juvenile versus criminal justice systems.
Write a 700- to 1,050-word paper comparing the procedures that law enforcement officers and courts should follow when interacting with juveniles versus adults during the stages of intake, prosecution, adjudication, and disposition.
Choose 1 of the following videos from the University Library of a court session to use as an example scenario for this assignment:
Rodrick: Juvenile Court in Session
Morris: Juvenile Court in Session
Kenneth: Juvenile Court in Session
Kymyada: Juvenile Court in Session
Complete the following in your paper:
Summarize the case you chose and the legal issues facing the juvenile and the court.
Define the role and key parameters of the juvenile justice system.
Explain the function of juvenile vs. adult courts.
Summarize the court’s philosophy of juvenile justice used in this case.
Explain how law enforcement and the courts might have interacted differently with this person as a juvenile than if he or she had been an adult.
Summarize the rights and confidentiality protections that exist for this juvenile that are not the same for adults. Use the State Profiles from the National Juvenile Defender Center, and include at least 1 policy specific to your state that would be relevant in this case.
Describe at least 2 additional factors that officers and the court must consider for the juvenile in this case that may not work the same way for adults.
Use language and terms appropriate for each justice system when comparing juveniles versus adults.
Kenneth: Juvenile Court in Session
Juvenile delinquency is a common trend in modern society, defined by juveniles (youths, minors, below 18 years) engaging in prohibited behaviors by the juvenile code. These behaviors include behavior that would be described as a criminal offense for adults such as theft and action prohibited expressly for minors or status offenses such as truancy in schools (Elrod & Ryder, 2011). The chosen case is that of Kenneth: Juvenile Court in Session. Kenneth, a 16-year-old boy, is in juvenile detention with his brother, 14 years at Lake County Juvenile Complex. Kenneth is charged with vandalism, theft, trespassing, and mischief. Kenneth and his brother are detained after pictures of them in another boy’s company are found as they break into cars in a local train station. The case is held in two court hearings in which, after the first, the judge rules that Kenneth and his brother undergo a psychological evaluation for a month. In the first hearing session, we learn that for both Kenneth and his brother, that was not their first appearance in court, meaning their presence that day was a second time, which was a repetitive behavior. Based on the psychological evaluation recommendations, the judge rules for rehabilitation on their disposition hearing, which was successful.
Juvenile delinquency has been addressed by creating distinct institutions in the 1800s for youth treatment engaging in illegal acts, as opposed to the USA handling all criminal cases in a single justice system regardless of age. The juvenile justice systems comprise differential sentencing standards and statutes, court structures, detention facilities, and probation offices (Barton, 2016). The system’s primary roles include ensuring public safety by habilitating and rehabilitating delinquents, encouraging skill development, and facilitating treatment needs among delinquents preparing and equipping them for successful integration into society. Juvenile courts focus and emphasize the rehabilitation of a juvenile rather than the punishment aspect, including the treatment and therapy regimens and education for skill development to equip the child with coping and mitigation strategies while transitioning into adulthood. In adult court, rehabilitation is minimally integrated as they function to deter, punish, and offer retribution to victims (Hamblen, 2020). The differences between juvenile and adult courts differ with states. However, the differences are seen in the labeling where adult offenders are criminals. In contrast, young offenders are delinquents: adult courts’ complaints are filed while in juvenile courts, petitions are filed: adult offenders are convicted. In contrast, juvenile offenders are considered adjudicated delinquents, and convicted adult offenders are sentenced as punishment while juvenile delinquents receive a disposition.
The predominant juvenile justice philosophy integrated into Kenneth’s case is that juveniles can learn from their mistakes through correct guidance, treatment, and rehabilitation. The integration of non-proportional or incarcerating sentences, emphasis on treatment and rehabilitation rather than punishment show concern for Kenneth and his brother’s future welfare and best interests instead of focusing on their past offenses (Elrod & Ryder, 2011). As an adult, Kenneth and his brother, Kentrell, would have received different treatment in the intake, prosecution, adjudication, and disposition processes. In the intake, juveniles can be referred to the juvenile courts by law enforcers such as Kenneth’s case, parents, schools, and victims where they are taken in detention centers. However, adult offenders’ intake involves arrest, custody in a cell until a decision for compliant filling and court arraignment are reached. Prosecution for adult Kenneth would include a public hearing for committing offenses and crimes with a jury instead of the adjudicated hearing. If found guilty, adult Kenneth would be convicted and sentenced as punishment for his criminal actions.
Notable similarities in adult and juvenile courts and criminal systems is that they have the right to have an attorney (free public defender for juveniles) and the right not to incriminate oneself. However, constitutional juvenile rights and protections are different for juveniles and adults. For instance, juveniles are granted a second chance in life as their records in juvenile courts are expunged at 18 years old to avoid haunting them in the future if the juvenile meets all necessary conditions. Expunging means having their delinquent acts and records erased, something not considered among adults (Hamblen, 2020). Adults have criminal records present even after serving their sentences. Juveniles have the right to notice, that is, the right to know charges and delinquent acts presented against them prior to an adjudication hearing. Finally, juveniles have the right to prerelease of non-violent delinquent actions. In the disposition and rulings, juveniles are protected through judges following specific standards and guidelines that empathize on ‘best interest’ rather than punishing. In adult courts, ‘their best interests’ are not a consideration in the ruling and conviction. This is because rehabilitation is minimally integrated as adult courts mainly function to deter criminal behavior, punish criminals, and offer retribution to victims.
One policy from New York State relevant in Kenneth’s case is that all delinquent youths are entitled to free defense counsel from legal aid societies, contracted attorney systems, or panel systems, as the state covers all expenses (NJDC, 2018). Therefore, Kenneth’s case sessions and proceedings in New York would have been facilitated by the New York state with the presence of a state-provided defense counsel for Kenneth and his brother.
Barton, W. H. (2016). Chapter 9: Juvenile JUstice Policies and Programs. In Social Policy for Children and Families (pp. 257-296). New York: Sage Publications, Inc.
Elrod, P., & Ryder, S. (2011). The Content of Juvenile Justice: Defining Basic Concepts and Examining Public Perceptions of Juvenile Crime. In Juvenile Justice: A Social, Historical and Legal Perspective (pp. 1-17). London: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, LLC.
Hamblen, K. (2020). Juvenile vs. Adult Criminal System. Retrieved from Legal Match: https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/juvenile-vs-adult-criminal-system.html
NJDC. (2018, June). New York: Juvenile Indigent Defense Delivery System. Retrieved from National Juvenile Defender Center: https://njdc.info/practice-policy-resources/state-profiles/newyork/
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