Distinguishing Juvenile Court from Criminal Court

Juvenile Court vs Criminal Court

Understanding the difference between juvenile court and criminal court is not difficult. Both courts deal with offenses or crimes, but the procedure each court follows when trying crimes varies. Juvenile court, also known as a young offender’s court, hears cases involving crimes committed by minors. Criminal court, on the other hand, is the standard court that hears and determines criminal cases, particularly those committed by adults.

What is Juvenile Court?

A juvenile court is a judicial tribunal with the authority to hear, try, and issue judgments for cases involving crimes committed by children who have not yet reached the age of majority, which is generally 18 years old. However, this is not a strict rule, as minors may be charged as adults in certain instances, such as when the crime is very serious. In juvenile court, the acts committed by the minor are referred to as “delinquent acts” rather than “crimes.” Minors, like criminal defendants, are entitled to representation by a lawyer or public defender, but they do not have the right to a trial by jury. Instead, the proceeding in a juvenile court is called an “adjudication hearing,” which begins when the prosecution or probation officer files a civil petition charging the minor with a criminal act and requesting that the court determine the minor to be “delinquent” (guilty).

Key Takeaways

  • Juvenile court deals with crimes committed by minors, while criminal court handles cases involving adults.
  • In juvenile court, the focus is on rehabilitation and reform rather than punishment, with the goal of reintegrating the minor into society.
  • Juvenile court proceedings are typically more informal, not open to the public, and do not involve trials by jury or bail applications like criminal court proceedings.
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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