Criminal Law Foundations

The United States of America, its government, and the Criminal Justice Administration are all governed under the same set of governmental laws. These governmental laws are documented within the U.S. Constitution. Each amendment to the Constitution provides basic rights for citizen of the United States. Signed by delegates and presided by President George Washington, the Constitution was designed to provide a stronger federal government under the three branches; executive, legislative and judicial (The Constitution, 2014)

In proceeding involving juveniles the United States Supreme court provides protections against juveniles according to the U.S. Constitution, the right to counsel, advanced notice of charges, the right to confront and cross-examine an adverse witness, and the right to remain silent. The research within this paper will cover the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments and how they pertain to criminal law within and the juvenile justice system. The impact of safeguards provided by these amendments and how they affect the day-to-day operations of the adult and juvenile courts. Fourth Amendment According to “The Charters Of Freedom" (n.d.) the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution states; “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized (Amendment IV).” The fourth amendment to the Constitution protects a person's rights from illegal search and seizure. Specifically, the fourth amendment protects a person's homes, papers, effects, and their person from search without probable cause or reasonable suspicion by a law enforcement or government officials.

Once reasonable suspicion is concluded, a law enforcement official takes the evidence to a judge for a warrant. If the judge does not feel the evidence provided is satisfactory, a warrant will likely not be generated; therefore search and seize is not granted. As the 4th amendment protects adults from illegal search and seizure, afforded juveniles are also protected in a similar manner. Juveniles arrested without a warrant are to be provided a probable cause hearing at which time evidence pertaining to their arrest is shown and examine by the proceeding judge. 5th Amendment

The fifth Amendment to the Constitution states; “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation ("The Charters Of Freedom", n.d.). The fifth Amendment guarantee’s all felonies be tried by a grand jury. The fifth Amendment also protects a persons right against self-incrimination.

The fifth Amendment also protects a persons right to only be tried once for the same crime. The Fifth Amendment protects juveniles accused of crimes by informing them of their rights and charges against them and their right to an attorney. Juveniles are given the right to confront their accuser, cross-examine witnesses, and they are given the right to refuse against testifying themselves. In most states, the right to a public trial or trial by jury is not afforded to juveniles because of confidentiality laws in regards to minors.

In trial juveniles are given the tight to an adjudicatory hearing. During the adjudicatory hearing juveniles may be represented by their attorney, allow witnesses to appear on their behalf, he right to subpoena witnesses, cross-examine witnesses, and the right against self-incrimination. During adjudicatory hearing, all charges against a juvenile much be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, prior to guilt being established. Once guilt is established in a case against a juvenile, sentencing is handed down by the judge during a “deposition decision”. 6th Amendment

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution states In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense” ("The Charters Of Freedom", n.d.).

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees individuals the right to a speedy trial by jury preventing long-term incarceration without a trial or guilty verdict. Members of the jury should remain unbiased prior to a trial beginning, this includes personal views and morals, and coverage by media and exploitation. Juveniles are not guaranteed a trial by jury, due to the sensitivity to a minor’s privacy. Minors and adult equally, are given the right to an attorney. Those minors who cannot afford an attorney will have one appointed to them free of charge. Safeguards

Safeguards impacting the day-to-day operations with juvenile and adult court vary from one courtroom to another. The juvenile justice sector applies to individual under the age of 18 that are unable to be tried in the adult court system. Juvenile accused of committing crimes could face a transfer to the adult court system in conformance with some state laws and the specific crime that was committed. Juveniles later found guilty are not convicted of committing crimes, but rather delinquencies. Enforced by the state, in most cases, juvenile justice focuses on lower the recidivism rate by rehabilitating offenders. Rehabilitation, rather than imposing punishment on juveniles eliminates the hardening of the juveniles.

Confined juveniles often learn the ways of more violent juveniles that they would not learn if they were sentenced to rehabilitation instead. With newly acquired skills from other jailhouse inmates, juveniles are more likely to go on to commit more serious crimes. As for adults, the technique is often punishment and then rehabilitation due to the fact that society views children as more likely to change rather than adult offenders. Conclusion

Parens patriae is Latin for “parent of his or her county” (Parens Patriae, n.d.). Parens patriae is the power of the state in which the juveniles resides to act as a guardian for juveniles that are unable to care for themselves. In order for the state to take power over a juvenile they must either be disabled or unable to take care of themselves. Under the parens patriae doctrine, a judge may change child support arraignments, custody of a minor, or any other area that that affects a child’s wellbeing, without the juveniles parental consent. Safeguards such as parens patriae give way for rehabilitation and change for juvenile catching themselves in the juvenile justice system (Education For Freedom, n.d.).

The fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments in relation to juveniles are meant to protect them from the criminal justice system and rehabilitate them in an effort to keep them out of the system once and for all. The juvenile justice system has been created as a separate sector of the justice system with its own set of structured statutes aimed towards juvenile delinquents. Such statutes protecting juveniles were not always in place, at one point juveniles were deprived of liberty, later after extensive examination juveniles were extended such right as the right to counsel, the right against self-incrimination and the right to notice and cross-examining witnesses.

It is important to remember that such safeguards have not always been in place to protect those accused of committing crimes, and now serve some of the most important roles in the criminal justice and juvenile justice system. The right to protection against self-incrimination allows the accused to stand a chance at facing an acquittal and does not give the system a chance to charge an innocent person with a crime that probable cause and evidence cannot prove they committed.


The Charters of Freedom. (n.d.). Retrieved from

The Constitution. (2014). Retrieved from

Education for Freedom. (n.d.). Retrieved from

parens patriae. (n.d.). Retrieved from