If a young person below the age of 18 goes against the law, he or she will have his or her case heard in the juvenile justice system. The juvenile justice system was introduced to separate the court system from juveniles (Davis, 1974). This was introduced as the states recognized that children breaking the law are different from adults, they are not much blameworthy, and they have a great possibility to change. On this paper, to bring into light the operation of the juvenile system, I will take an example of a case of a minor that took place in the United States in the year 1998.
Jose, a fifteen years old kid, underwent a lot of difficulties in his childhood. He lived like an orphan kid as his parents left him while he was a kid, his dad left few months after Jose was born, a few years later his mother also disappeared. Jose like his father became a serious addict, engaged in both alcohol and drugs. In 1998, Jose and other four teenagers were hanging out in an alley, taking alcoholic drinks.
The teens involved themselves in roughhousing which led to serious fights. Two of the teenagers were immigrants from Mexico; one had his skull crushed after a serious beat, and the other had his ankle break as he escaped over the fence. Earlier in the morning as a result of commotion from neighbors Jose was arrested. This paper discusses Jose’s case proceedings in the court, prosecution and defense, sentence orders made by the juvenile court, and Jose’s detention.
Juvenile court proceedings are civil. Most countries consider a young person to be one between ten to eightee...
n years, anyone above the juvenile age set by the state is charged as an adult. When Jose was arrested the presiding prosecutor asked for a fitness hearing to know whether Jose’s case could be tried in an adult court. Investigations revealed that although Jose participated in the attack, he played the lesser role as compared to his teen friends.
These actions combined with before the happening of the incident intoxication led to prosecutors offering him deal. According to the level of participation in the assault, Jose was to be moved to the adult court and pleaded guilty. On pleading guilty, Jose was instead sent to the California Youth Authority for psychological evaluation. The psychologist did the assessment and found that Jose was not likely to cause threat to the public if he remained sober.
The adjudication and the psychological evaluation process were over, and the presiding judge ruled out that Jose was guilty and deserved confinement. As per California youth authority law, if a juvenile is found delinquent, there is full range of sentencing options that juvenile court can impose on juvenile usually called the disposition orders. These disposition orders fall into categories: incarceration and non-incarceration. After an adjudication hearing, if a juvenile is found delinquent, juvenile court may impose incarceration as a penalty (Clarke, 1996). Methods used to confine a juvenile are different from ones used in confining adult offenders. Juveniles found delinquent, judges may order their confinement in various ways.
Home confinement/ house arrest-minors ca
be sentenced to remain at home unless they are attending school, counseling or work, any other activity besides these the minor is supposed to stay at home. Presiding Judge can order the placement of minor with someone other than a parent or guardian. Presiding judges can send the minor to a juvenile hall/juvenile detention facility usually designed for short-term stays. Some minors after few months of serving in the juvenile facility are then put on probation. Some minors serve blended sentences; judges of some jurisdictions can send juveniles from juveniles facilities to adult facility once the juveniles reach majority age.
If a juvenile is found delinquent, Judges can impose non-incarceration options on a juvenile. Verbal warning-the juvenile can be done verbally, reprimanding the minor not to violate the rule of law. Judges can impose a disposition order to a juvenile to attend counseling seminars. Juveniles can be ordered to work a certain number of hours doing community service. Minors can be subjected to fine sentence, judge in charge can order the minor to pay fine to the state or compensate the victim. The last disposition order that a court might impose to a minor is electronic monitoring; a juvenile might be required to put on electronic gadget that shows their location at all times.
Youth has his or her first encounter with the juvenile justice system once arrested by a law enforcement officer. On this case, Jose was taken to the juvenile justice system by law enforcement officer on duty that date. After arrest, a decision is made whether to detain and charge the minor or release the minor.
The decision is made by the officer handling the case based on the information provided by the victims of the crime committed by the juvenile, the juvenile’s parents, the juvenile himself and any past records with juvenile system related to the victim. Jose was first detained in juvenile detention hall as he waited for his trial according to the decision made by the judge on duty. According to Schmalleger (2009), detention hearing is usually held within 24 hours of the arrest. Jose was put in detention for 24 hours as he awaited his adjudication hearing.
After final ruling by the judge, juvenile sentenced to jail is put in secure juvenile hall/juvenile detention facility (Pope, & Feyerherm, 1995). Jose was detained in juvenile detention facility to serve his 208 days jail term. The goal of juvenile justice system is not to punish the minors but instead, rehabilitate them to live a productive adult life. Jose served his 208 days term detention finished, and he is currently a responsible boy, his juvenile records have been sealed.
In juvenile court system, minors have some extra protections which are not there in the adult court system. Their records are sealed so that their juvenile offenses do not haunt them in their future life (Tinkler, 1992). He was held in a juvenile detention facility. The American juvenile justice system is the primary system that addresses minors who are caught violating the law. Its main objective is not punishing the minors but rehabilitate them to grow as good and responsible people.
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