Criminal history of the delinquent

It is further seen that in Juvenile Courts, the entire system stresses on rehabilitation of the offender whereas the Adult court stresses on the disapproval expressed by society on the individual’s behavior and the need to punish the same. It is seen that when a juvenile is referred to a Juvenile Court then he is not arrested but taken into custody and a petition is filed. In the Adult Court, the criminal is arrested and indicted. The Juvenile must agree to or deny the petition and then can also ask for adjustment.

On the basis of the petition and the nature of delinquent act, the juvenile is sent to detention or child care. The Adult has to plead guilty, not guilty or no contest of the complaint against him and accordingly, he is either sent or returned to jail. Instead of the trial process that is followed in an Adult Court, the Juvenile Court conducts a fact finding mission or adjudication where the juvenile can ask for substitution, which is equivalent to reduction of charges in Adult court procedure. After adjudication, the court conducts a dispositional hearing to determine punishment.

In the adult court, after trial the Court passes its order and if convicted then the nature and quantum of punishment is stated (Girl, 2006). If the juvenile is found guilty of a delinquent act, then he is either committed to a youth centre or a treatment training school. On the other hand, if an adult is found guilty of a crime, then he is either incarcerated or sent to a prison of some kind. As mentioned earlier, the age of the juvenile offender, nature of the offence committed is taken into consideration while conducting the fact finding mission.

A juvenile is not tried in the same manner as an adult for the same offence. The legal standards applied in an Adult Court are different from the legal standards applied in a Juvenile Court (Girl, 2006). Similarity in both these processes is that both use the Police, Court and Correction Systems as their mechanisms for adjudication. Also in both cases, the offenders receive Miranda warnings and are protected from prejudicial treatment during identification procedures (Girl, 2006). It is seen that the criminal court is based on an adversarial model, while juvenile court is based on a more cooperative model.

The Criminal Court system is more complex as vested interests of the prosecutors, defense lawyers and judges play a role in determining the case before it (Calderon, 2006). The entire process of Juvenile Justice starts with the police response. Usually it is seen that the police after identifying a juvenile offender normally release them with a warning or after filling out an investigation report but in some cases the police take them to the police station for a good talk. In some cases, the police might talk to the parents or release the offender while referring them to a community agency.

In some cases, the police might issue a notice seeking appearance in court. Finally in very serious cases the police might detain the offender and schedule an appearance in Juvenile Court (An Overview of Juvenile Justice). In cases where the delinquent is taken to the Court, the entire Court process starts with the screening. This is done by probation officers, social workers or paralegals from the prosecutor’s office. This intake screening involves the interviewing of the parents or guardian, checking the criminal history of the delinquent, if any, reviewing the complaint and checking the appropriateness of the treatment.

The screening process also determines whether the delinquent needs to be produced before the Court. The probation officer or the person conducting the intake screening, after the entire process of gathering information, can either a) dismiss the charges against the delinquent, or b) order informal supervision or probation for him/her, or c) refer the delinquent to a social service organization ,or d) in serious cases file a formal petition for adjudication before the Juvenile Court (An Overview of Juvenile Justice).

It is often seen that the decision of the probation officer or person conducting the intake screening is usually dependent on the criminal history of the offender. A pattern of delinquency can be determined from the previous records maintained. Depending on the nature of the offence committed and the history of the individual, the person screening might seek automatic waiver to adult criminal courts. In such cases, there is a fear that the waiver might not be appropriate and would have been the result of absence of good juvenile treatment programs or a result of discretion of the prosecution.

Such waivers often result in no change in behavior of the offender as they do not act as a deterrent, instead urges the person to commit more crimes in the future (An Overview of Juvenile Justice). Once a juvenile delinquent is referred to a Juvenile Court for a delinquent act, then the entire process of adjudication starts which is similar to a trial in an Adult Court. The rules of procedure and evidence are the same but the person qualified to hear the adjudication may differ.

In Juvenile Courts, the adjudication can be presided over by a Judge or by any lawyer so empowered to hear such cases. It is seen that in some cases, a jury trial can also be conducted though this concept is not very common. It is seen from the various adjudications that the offender normally pleads guilty and the judge normally either dismisses the charges or orders informal probation. In a few cases, the parents may be punished but this has now been cancelled (An Overview of Juvenile Justice).