Before the 1800’s, juvenile delinquents had no special rights thus were treated as adults when it came to criminal matters. This was utterly unfair to the young offenders, since they were not mentally and emotionally capable to face the law like the grown adults.
This prompted for reform in the US legal systems to consider their situation in implementing the law. This resulted to constitution amendment, to include provisions for the young offenders’ rights; among the amendments, was the formation of juvenile courts for prosecuting the young suspects.
A juvenile may be arrested on suspicion by police officers or when parents, victims or the law order for his arrest. Once arrested, the police officer has the obligation to allow the juvenile to inform his or her parents or guardians about the situation immediately the arrest occurs. Moreover, the minor has a right to make two phone calls to report of the incidence. If the officer opts to detain the minor, he or she firstly placed under probation officer within 24 hours of his arrest (Bartollas & Miller, 2008). At this time, the offender will be probed, counseled and may be released, although with a lawful petition filed against him or her.
The probation officer should then inform the juvenile of his or her right to be silent to guard him against incriminating himself, since any uttered word could be used against the offender during prosecution. Moreover, the minor should not be questioned prior to prosecution.
Additionally, if the minor is under bars, he must face a hearing before a court judge within 48 hours of his captivity (Kaye, 2011). Once before a juror, he may be detained or released and wait for court proceedings later. The juvenile’s parents or guardians have the right to hire a lawyer, to follow and take charge of the case. However, if they are not in a position to acquire one, they may ask for assistance in line with the stipulated laws over the issue.
Comparing and contrasting juveniles and adults
Moreover, minors enjoy certain rights, which their adult counterparts do not. Juvenile delinquents cannot receive capital punishment. Despite the atrocity of the crime, minors never receive capital punishment; the law opts for a life sentence instead.
Minors are not subject to public prosecution by a judge (Edwards, 2004). Instead, the juror listens to the evidence presented and decides whether the minor is delinquent or not.
The juror’s aim is to rehabilitate, rather than punish as it is to adults (Kaye, 2011). On the other hand, children prosecutions tend to be informal, the main aim being correcting and releasing them, as opposed to adults who are subject to facing the full arm of the law.
Additionally, juveniles are not legally allowed to bail. However, this does not mean that the children will be limitless in custody. In most states, the maximum time a minor should be in custody is 24 hours.
In my view, special juvenile rights are essential in promoting justice. Some minors are too young to know the consequences of their misdeeds, since they lack the capacity to understand the law. Moreover, children are not acquainted to institutions that may assist them understand their rights. As a result, the government and the legal system must intervene and assist these innocent minors.
The US legal system has transformed or changed over time, and juvenile offenders can now enjoy special rights that promote social justice. Besides, when a minor is under custody, he undergoes various legal processes, where other legal institutions intervene to ensure that juvenile rights are not violated.
In addition, juveniles have special rights, such as the right against capital punishment and the right to be immediately charged, rights never enjoyed by adults. Such a legal system creates an excellent platform for promoting justice to juvenile delinquents.
Bartollas, C. & Miller, S. (2008). Juvenile justice in America. (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Edwards, J. (2004). Confidentiality and the Juvenile and Family Courts. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 55, 1–24.
Kaye, J. (2011). The Supreme Court and Juvenile Justice. Journal of Supreme Court History, 36, 62–80.