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3 facts about juvenile justice worth understanding

On Behalf of | Dec 3, 2023 | Juvenile defense

Learning that your child is facing scrutiny by the juvenile justice system is challenging, partially because you’ll need to figure out what to do to assist them. One of the first things you need to realize is that the juvenile justice system is much different from the adult criminal justice system.

In the juvenile justice system, the goal is to give the juveniles the services and programs they need to learn to live a productive life. With that said, it’s important to take juvenile charges seriously because a conviction could still affect a minor negatively, even if the overall goal of the system is rehabilitation, not punishment.

The process is different from adult court

One major difference between the juvenile justice court and the adult criminal court is that juveniles don’t have jury trials. A jury must be made up of the defendant’s peers, but juveniles can’t make the decisions that would be necessary in a trial. Instead, the juvenile stands before a judge who determines what needs to happen. Other participants may include the prosecutor, defense attorney and professionals who are involved in the case.

Many cases focus on treatments

The juvenile justice system often focuses on treatments for affected juveniles. Family members may also be included in the plan. In some cases, they may be placed on probation so the supervising officer can monitor how they’re progressing with their program requirements. They must be released from probation by the time they’re 18 years old.

Several dispositions are possible

Probation isn’t the only disposition in the juvenile justice system. It’s possible for some juveniles to be sent to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. This sentence can be determinate or indeterminate. A determinate sentence may lead to a transfer to the adult prison system at 16 years old, but it depends on specific circumstances. An indeterminate sentence requires the juvenile to be discharged by 19 years old.

A juvenile who is scrutinized by the juvenile justice system generally has the same rights as an adult defendant. Once they have legal representation, the juvenile is the client so they get to determine how their defense is handled. They should be provided with information that can help them make informed decisions. Working with an attorney who regularly represents juveniles can be beneficial as a result.