A young person could be regarded as a juvenile delinquent by their committing a criminal act, still, yet others become involved with the juvenile justice system because they have committed acts that are illegal strictly because of the age of the juvenile, some examples of acts that are illegal by the age of the juvenile include truancy, drinking while underage, running from home, etc., however, these cases are not all subject to court appearances. The fact is that while there may not be a lot of youth cases that get to go to court, a large portion of the ones that go to court are decided against the juvenile and the juvenile is held to be delinquent it has been suggested that a way of reducing the occurrences of these negative that arise as a result of the out of home placement afforded these young persons is to limit the instances of incarceration. This is because the juveniles who are detained in the system may become victims of the negative circumstances such as; overcrowding, the violence of a sexual nature, the possibility of a suicide attempt, and eventually death due to the nature of the prisons. Some notable facts about the issue of Juvenile delinquency include the fact that an approximated 423,077 cases are handled and disposed of annually in the country and over half of this number were found to be delinquent in the year 2018; while in 2019, 53% of the cases that were adjudicated upon formally were adjudged to be delinquent cases. The cost on average to incarcerate a youth in a secure juvenile facility is $588 per day or $214,620 for each year.
There is also the problem of being rearrested again for youths, this has become commonplace for youths under the age of 21 years, because of the presence of factors such as the use and abuse of illegal substances; and the quality of the facility where they were incarcerated. Thus if the facility and the services in the facility are suitable enough, it could very well reduce the rate of rearrest and return for youths that go through that system. Furthermore, the academic measures put in place in the facility for youths to continue to get their education while on the inside is also a measure that could help reduce drastically the rate of recidivism.
Generally, juvenile delinquency can be anything ranging from skipping school, to shoplifting, right up the chart to murder, these crimes when commited by minors are not treated the same way an adult would be treated having been accused of committing such crimes. This is a general rule, however the different provisions of the juvenile system in the different states may begin to take effect, however the focus of the courts should be tilted towards rehabilitation rather than straight out punishment.
The juvenile courts are saddled with the responsibility of handling dependency cases and delinquency cases. In independence cases, the guardian or the parent of the child is accused of abandonment and neglect of the child, while delinquency cases are cases that the youth is accused of committing whether because the act itself is a crime or the act is a crime because of the age of the youth involved. The proceedings in a juvenile are not as formal and official as what is obtained in the main court, there is the presence of a lot more discretion from the police officers, the judges, and the probation officers in handling juvenile cases, they can ensure that such cases are resolved without the introduction of a petition to try the child, a formal child is more likely to be used in other situations such as in the presence of the commission of a serious offense, where the minor is older, where the minor has been to juvenile court before and has a history of run-ins with the law, where there is loss of control on the child by the parents of the child.
There are still some cases where the issue being dealt with may be particularly serious or the child has a very robust criminal history record, such a child could be tried not just in the juvenile court but in the adult criminal court. This provision is not static though as it is largely based on the laws available in the state in question and the age of the child. The major factor to be considered however is that, if the child is amenable to rehabilitation, where the child shows signs of remorse, they may be left in the juvenile system, this is in the best interest of the child to remain within the juvenile system because the punishments are not as grave as the adults, and the records of these proceedings are not left to be accessed by the public. The only situation where the adult court is preferable is the fact that in an adult court, the presence of some of the constitutional rights of the defendant is not present in a juvenile court.
Constitutional Rights Available to Juvenile Delinquents
One of the rights provided by the constitution to which the juveniles are not entitled is the absence of the right of privacy which in some jurisdictions and as has been stated by the courts, is provided that their belongings may be searched where there is no probable cause. However, the right to legal representation is still sacrosanct and must be strictly respected by the state. The right to remain silent until a minor has spoken to their parents or their attorney is a constitutional right guaranteed by the law and the courts. In some jurisdictions, delinquency cases do not have the right to go to trial with a jury, however, the right of cross-examination remains open to the juvenile as well the right to not incriminate themselves by testifying.
Punishments Available in Juvenile Delinquency Cases
When the case is presented and the judge decides that the juvenile has committed the crime for which they are accused, the judge can order that the child be remanded in an adult prison, a juvenile facility, or a group home, in other cases, the child may be remanded in a juvenile facility until they reach the age of 18 years then they are transferred to an adult facility. Other punishments available for the kids include house arrest, electronic monitoring, fines, counseling, education programs, community service, and probation which can take different forms such as limiting the access of the child to certain persons, curfew, and mandatory attendance of school.
Sealing Juvenile Records
Depending on the jurisdiction, generally, all juvenile records are closed from access to the public and are declared to be private records, and these records are easier to seal and destroy than an adult records. However, the presence of a juvenile can still serve as a basis for a greater sentence if the individual is found guilty of another crime whether as a juvenile or as an adult.