Why juveniles are treated differently in the courts

When someone is arrested as a minor, the way that they are handled in both being detained as well as a trial and sentencing will be a vastly different experience then it will for an adult being tried. Not only is the goal difference in terms of what the judge and law enforcement want but the overall approach will be more compassionate. To better understand, here is a rundown.

Detainment isn’t the goal

If a minor is arrested and has no previous offenses then law enforcement will often take a softer approach before even arresting or charging. Often, if the crime committed is relatively minor they may just take the minor home and talk to their guardians, or if it more serious but perhaps still a misdemeanor then they may detain the minor but instead of bail they would simply be released to their guardian. The courts are also a bit softer on minors with no priors and they put more work into looking at why a youth be acting this way and if there are perhaps issues in the home such as drug use or abuse. These are things that can be taken into consideration when it comes to sentencing because the goal with minors is more about helping them to stay off the wrong path as opposed to serving sentences in prison. This is all of course if the defendant does not have a significant history or has committed a violent crime in which case it is more likely they may be tried as adults.

There is no bail

One thing that may come as a surprise is that there is no way to bail out a juvenile. This is because while when an adult is taken into custody, they would need to come up with the money to be released but if the minor will not be tried as an adult and the charges are not violent in nature then almost always the minor will be released to their legal guardians so that bond is not necessary. Again, however, if they are tried as an adult then bond may be set and there are a different set of rules like they would be held in a juvenile detention facility as opposed to jail.

There won’t be any juries

Though it is not always the case, when an adult is tried they will have their case in front of a jury, however, with juvenile proceedings, only a judge will decide on guilt and sentencing. These hearings also are more often than not closed to the public where adult hearings are open.

Overall when arrested as a minor you get a few more chances than those of an adult but if there are too many run-ins or they are violent crimes, that extra goodwill will dissipate quickly.