The first and foremost difference in juvenile court, is that the courts place an emphasis on the rehabilitation of minors. Unlike in adult criminal courts, where mane prosecutors view their job of “doing justice” as incarcerating as many defendants as possible and racking up convictions.
Actually, punishment in juvenile court cannot be just for punishments sake. The purpose of the punishment has to be that the juvenile somehow becomes rehabilitated from it.
Here is a simple list of rights that are NOT available to juveniles, where an adult would have the benefit of such rights:
– Bail or release on the minors promise to appear
– Jury trial!!
– Deferred entry of judgment for drug offenses
– Drug treatment instead of incarceration for nonviolent drug possession
– A preliminary hearing in felony cases (so a case will just go straight to “trial” – adjudication hearing)
– A probable cause determination made within 48 hours of a warrantless arrest
Even without those rights juvenile court still has its advantages over adult court, such as more choices when it comes to plea deals focused more on education and helping the minor – all with the goal of dismissal. So, a minor who allegedly commits a crime that could normally result in harsh prison or jail sentences, could result in an ultimate dismissal with the avenues available in juvenile court.
Finally, minors still have the right to an attorney, the right to confront witnesses and right against self-incrimination (remain silent!!).
Due to these differences, it is important to hire an attorney with experience in juvenile court when a minor is facing criminal charges.