In recent posts, we've been looking at the issue of juveniles facing the prospect of criminal charges as an adult, as well as the importance of young offenders working with an experienced advocate. As we noted, an experienced advocate will work so that a young offender's case is not transferred to the criminal system when this would be improper or inappropriate.
One of the major benefits of keeping a young offender's case in the juvenile system, when possible, is that the juvenile system has different aims than the criminal system. While the criminal system, generally speaking is geared toward punishment of offenders and keeping society safe, the juvenile system is more geared to offering young offenders the resources they need to get back on the right track.
Several other major differences between the criminal system and the juvenile justice system are listed below:
- Offenses are considered delinquent acts in the juvenile justice system instead of crimes
- Juries are not involved in Juvenile Court
- Instead of considering a juvenile guilty or not guilty, he or she is determined to have been involved or not involved in illegal activity
In assigning punishments or penalties, the juvenile justice system aims to hold young offenders accountable while developing their character and ensuring they become responsible and productive adults. Judges handling these cases consider not only the offense and other details surrounding the offense itself, but also the needs of the young person.
In our next post, we'll look at some of the possibilities a juvenile may when they become involved with the juvenile justice system.
Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, "Department of Juvenile Services: Overview of the Youth Charged as Adults Population," December 2012.
Maryland Coalition of Families for Children's Mental Health, Navigating the Juvenile Justice System: A Handbook for Families," 2006.