Understanding Juvenile Crimes

Posted on: 3 February 2020


When your child is arrested, you might have a lot of questions. Your son or daughter might be afraid for their future, and you surely have many thoughts rushing through your head. The truth is that when a child commits a crime, the laws get a little more complicated than when an adult commits the same offense. In fact, each court may handle juvenile cases differently. In fact, juveniles don't have the same rights as adults in court.

Want to know more about what to do next? The answers to these questions will help you.

What Is a Juvenile Crime?

In most states, a juvenile crime is a crime committed by somebody under the age of 18. In some states, the maximum age is 16 for a juvenile. Anybody over this age is tried as an adult. Additionally, the court may decide that a juvenile who commits a serious or violent crime may be tried as an adult. In that case, it is no longer considered a juvenile case.

Keep in mind that in most courts, a juvenile crime differs from a juvenile delinquency. Delinquency often refers to activities that are not necessarily crimes for adults but are issues for teens. They may include school truancy and running away.

Do Juveniles Have a Right to a Trial?

According to the U.S. Supreme Court case McKeiver v. Pennsylvania in 1971, only adults in the United States have the right to a trial by jury. The reasoning behind this was that jury trials could become very adversarial. Additionally, the Supreme Court was concerned that requiring jury trials could undermine the confidentiality of cases involving juveniles.

So What Happens Instead?

In many states, the government does not provide jury trials for minors. Instead, the judge will make the decision in cases that involve juveniles. One benefit to juvenile cases is that the cases are often sealed, meaning that nobody else can access the records. Your child can go on to live a life without these charges haunting them in many cases.

Should You Hire an Attorney?

You should always hire a criminal defense attorney when you face criminal charges, and the same applies if you have a juvenile who is facing charges. Juveniles face complicated situations, and some may face adult charges. You should always consult with an attorney before you move forward. In fact, an attorney should be present from the moment your child is questioned about a criminal matter.

Contact a law firm like Cohen Law Offices, LLC to learn more.