Before the establishment of juvenile courts, children under the age of seven were never held responsible for criminal acts. The law considered them incapable of forming the necessary criminal intent. Children between the ages of 7 and 14 were generally thought to be incapable of committing a criminal act, but this belief could be disproved by showing that the youth knew the act was a crime or would cause harm to another and committed it anyway. Children over the age of 14 could be charged with a crime and handled in the same manner as an adult.
Today, all states set age limits that determine whether a person accused of a crime is treated as an adult or as a juvenile. In most states, young people are considered juveniles until age 18. However, some states set the limit at 16 and 17. In most states, a juvenile charged with a serious crime, such as robbery or murder, can be transferred to criminal court and tried as an adult. Sometimes prosecutors make this decision, or some states that allow transfers require a hearing to consider the age and record of the juvenile, the type of crime, and the likelihood that the youth can be helped by the juvenile court.
As a result of a get-tough attitude involving juvenile crime, many states have revised their juvenile codes to make it easier to transfer youthful offenders to adult court. Recent years have seen an increase in serious crime by juveniles. This has included more violent acts, such as murder, which are often related to drugs, gangs, or both. Consequently, there has been a movement in congress and in a number of states to further reduce the age at which juveniles can be tried as adults. Some people believe all juveniles should be tried as adults if they commit certain violent crimes.
Juvenile Crime, in law, term denoting various offenses committed by children or youths under the age of 18. Such acts are sometimes referred to as juvenile delinquency. Children’s offenses typically include delinquent acts, which would be considered crimes if committed by adults, and status offenses, which are less serious misbehavior such as truancy and parental disobedience. Both are within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court; more serious offenses committed by minors may be tried in criminal court and be subject to prison sentences.
Under certain circumstances, youthful offenders can be tried either as juveniles or as adults. But even in these situations, their treatment is different from that of adults, for example, a juvenile who is arrested for an “adult” offense can be adjudicated in either juvenile court or adult court; if convicted, he or she can be placed with either other juvenile or adults. In contrast, an adult charged with the same offense would be tried in an adult court; if convicted, he or she would be incarcerated by the state and would be housed with adults.
Explaining crime and delinquency is a complex task. A multitude of factors exist that contribute to the understanding of what leads someone to engage in delinquent behavior. While biological and psychological factors hold their own merit when explaining crime and delinquency, perhaps social factors can best explain juvenile delinquency. Juvenile delinquency is a massive and growing individual while others view delinquency as a macra level function of society.