Juvenile courts and adult courts

Juvenile courts came to existence in relation to the disposition of cases involving minors. Due to juvenile courts, minor offenders are not exposed to rigorous processes that adult offenders have to go through as part of the justice system. Although there are similarities existing between juvenile courts and adult courts, it can be said that juvenile courts provide more adequate protection to minors. This is in consonance with the fact that juvenile courts, in its disposition of cases before it, take into consideration the tender age of the minor offender.

Ultimately, it performs its part by imposing sentence upon a guilty minor without having to cause unnecessary torment or damage to the minor concerned. Juvenile courts were intended to "spare juveniles from harsh proceedings of adult court, punitive and unseemly conditions of adult jails and penitentiaries, and the stigma of being branded 'criminal’” (“Juvenile Justice Reform” citing Etten and Petrone) Despite the number of differences that exist between juvenile courts and regular courts, it cannot be denied that similarities exist between the two courts.

So also, although the major parts in their respective processes are the same, there are modifications made in said processes as applied to juvenile courts. They are the same in the sense that a matter or a case is brought before them because a wrong was committed by the offender. It therefore appears that juvenile courts and regular courts have the same purpose—to determine the wrong committed and the culpability of the alleged offender.

The juvenile courts and regular courts exercise their respective jurisdictions in order to determine and examine the case instituted before them, and then finally to impose the sentence or adjudication as merited by their findings. However, as will be stated later on, the infractions calling for the exercise of jurisdiction of the respective courts differ. So also, the penalties that can be imposed by the two courts are different. The procedure followed between the two courts in the disposition of the case is relatively similar, except for certain modifications made to those applying to juvenile courts.

In addition, the same rights of the accused exist in both courts. The rights of the accused as mandated by the Constitution equally apply to minor offenders. As aptly stated, juvenile courts and regular courts are similar in respect to the rights granted to the accused, namely, ?    The right to an attorney ?    The right to confront and cross-examine witnesses ?    The privilege against self-incrimination ?    The right to notice of the charges ?    The prosecution must provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt before a person can be convicted (“Juvenile vs.

Adult Criminal System”). It is imperative that said rights be granted to the accused under both courts since said rights are guaranteed by the no less than the supreme law of the land. Hence, the accused in either court must have an independent and competent counsel who can defend him in the course of the proceedings. So also, the minor offender brought before the juvenile court can invoke his right against self-incrimination and refuse to be a witness against himself.

Most importantly, before a sentence can be imposed by either court, the guilt or culpability of the accused must be proven beyond any reasonable doubt. The difference between the two courts is mainly based on the fact that the matters before juvenile courts involve minors and therefore, the procedure to be followed in determining the culpability or participation of the minor in the alleged infraction must not be as harsh as that applied in regular courts.

To begin, the terminologies used in cases involving minors and falling within the jurisdiction of juvenile courts are not the same as those used in regular courts. As mentioned by Butts and Harell, In recognition of their distinct legal standing, juvenile courts developed a new vocabulary. Youths appearing in juvenile court were "delinquents" rather than defendants. They were "adjudicated" instead of being found guilty. Final decisions were "dispositions" rather than sentences. Youths held overnight by the court were "detained" in a juvenile detention center, not jailed (1998).