A juvenile refers to a young person who is not yet considered an adult in the eyes of the law. The age of a juvenile varies depending on the country and the state, but generally, young people below the age of 18 are considered juveniles in the criminal justice system.
Because of their age and inexperience, a juvenile offender is often treated differently than an adult offender when it comes to arresting and questioning procedures.
If you are a juvenile who is faced with an arrest warrant or called to police questioning, or you are a parent or guardian to one, read on to know all about what to expect in the juvenile justice system.
How Is Juvenile Court Different from an Adult Court?
In the United States, there is a separate court system for handling juvenile offenders. The main difference between juvenile and adult criminal courts is that the former seeks to rehabilitate rather than punish young offenders.
This is because it is believed that juveniles are more impressionable and have a greater potential for reform than adults.
Who Are Considered Juveniles?
As we mentioned, the legal definition of a juvenile depends on the country or state. In general, however, juvenile offenders are typically defined as individuals between the ages of 10 and 18.
It must also be noted that while the term “juvenile” and “minor” can be used interchangeably, they are not one and the same. A juvenile is usually considered a minor under the law, but not all minors are juveniles.
Typically, a minor is a child who is considered under the age of full legal responsibility. Thus, anyone under the age of 18 is considered a minor.
A juvenile, on the other hand, is a person who has not yet reached the age where criminal penalties may be applied.
What Are the Arrest and Questioning Procedures Involving a Juvenile?
If your child has been arrested or called to police questioning, it is important to understand their rights and how the arrest process works.
The arrest and questioning procedures of a juvenile offender are different from that of an adult in several ways:
A juvenile cannot be arrested simply for being a suspect in a crime. There must be probable cause to believe that the juvenile has committed a crime before an arrest can be made.
A juvenile, however, can be arrested if they are suspected to have committed a serious crime, such as murder or rape.
2. Questioning and arrest warrant
Similarly, a juvenile cannot be arrested based on an arrest warrant alone. Instead, a police officer must obtain a signed arrest warrant from a judge before detaining them at a juvenile detention facility for questioning or arrest.
Another key difference is that juvenile arrest warrants typically do not involve bail. Instead, offender can only be released from juvenile detention after they have been questioned and have had their cases reviewed by a judge.
Third, juvenile arrest procedures are typically more informal than those for adults. This means that juveniles are not often handcuffed or put in jail cells, and they may be escorted by their parents or guardians instead.
4. Questioning and juvenile interrogation
Finally, juvenile questioning is typically conducted in a more sensitive manner, with greater concern for the rights and well-being of young offenders.
Efforts are often made to maintain an open line of communication between suspects and law enforcement officers to ensure that the juvenile is treated fairly.
In most cases, the questioning is done with the parents present. For juveniles whose parents are not or no longer around, the questioning procedure may also require a guardian present.
Overall, while arrest and questioning procedures for juveniles may differ from those of adults in some ways, they are still designed to protect the rights and safety of young offenders at all times.
As a Juvenile Offender, What Are Your Constitutional Rights?
The arrest and questioning of a juvenile offender are governed by the US Constitution and Supreme Court, which affords all citizens certain protections under the law.
These protections apply to juvenile offenders as well, including the right to:
- remain silent;
- have an attorney present during questioning; and
- have their cases tried in juvenile court.
It is important to note that these rights are not absolute, and there may be some situations in which they can be waived or limited.
For instance, if a juvenile offender confesses to a crime, this may be used as evidence against them in court. This is why it’s important to know your right to remain silent.
The right to remain silent means that you are not obliged to answer questions from a police officer or law enforcement personnel, and you should always consult with an attorney before making any official statements.
Additionally, if a judge decides that a juvenile should be tried as an adult, their constitutional rights may be limited or even waived in certain situations.
What Happens If a Juvenile Is Charged with a Crime?
If a juvenile is charged with a crime, they will typically be tried in juvenile court and not in a typical adult court.
This is because the criminal justice system recognizes that juveniles are not fully developed mentally or emotionally, and thus they should not be subject to the same punishments as adult offenders.
In juvenile justice, the focus is on rehabilitating the offender so that they do not re-offend in the future.
As such, juvenile offenders are typically given probationary sentences, rather than being incarcerated in a juvenile detention facility or adult prison.
Probationary sentences may include:
- mandatory counseling
- community service
- restitution to the victim(s) of the crime
- being referred to specialized juvenile treatment programs, such as drug rehabilitation or anger management.
Ultimately, the goal of juvenile court is to help young offenders overcome the circumstances and behaviors that led them to commit a crime so that they can become productive members of society.
How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help You?
If your child is charged with a crime, enlisting the help of a criminal defense attorney may be one of the best decisions you can make.
A skilled criminal defense attorney will have extensive experience in juvenile arrest and questioning procedures, as well as juvenile court proceedings.
They can work closely with your child to ensure that their rights and interests are protected throughout the arrest and questioning process, as well as any subsequent legal proceedings.
In addition, a criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the juvenile justice system and explain your child’s options moving forward, such as seeking counseling or participating in specialized treatment programs.
Find a Lawyer Who Specializes in the Juvenile Justice Near You
If you need help with arrest and questioning procedures in regard to your juvenile offender, or any other aspect of the juvenile justice system, it’s important to seek out the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
The juvenile justice system is complex, and having a knowledgeable advocate on your side can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.
If you’re in the Fort Worth TX area, Cole Paschall Law can help you with any of your legal needs.
With years of experience in juvenile crime, you can trust that our team of lawyers will fight tirelessly to protect your child’s rights.
To learn more about our services and schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, visit us online or call us today.