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In the United States, a juvenile has the same rights as an adult if they are accused of a crime. Like an adult, a juvenile has the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. The juvenile system is different than the adult criminal system.
In the adult criminal system, the focus is mostly based on punishment for committing a crime. In the adult system that punishment is meant to make someone understand the punishment so they won’t commit the crime again. In the juvenile system it can be more lenient. The main goal is to rehabilitate the juvenile or the minor. This rehabilitation can be done through counseling or through a softer punishment with the hope is that when the juvenile becomes an adult, they will no longer commit criminal offenses.
If you are the parent or guardian of a juvenile or minor and they are accused of a crime, it is very important to hire a well-experienced defense attorney as soon as as possible. Juveniles do not have as much life experience as adults and they may not be as educated about their constitutional rights.
When a police officer approaches a juvenile and wants to question them, a juvenile is more likely to say incriminating things than an adult would. It is important that if you receive a call from your minor child and they say the police want to talk to them, that you call a criminal defense attorney immediately to advise your child.
Age does matter in the juvenile system. The younger a minor child is, the more likely that the court is going to be more lenient on you and will focus on rehabilitating the juvenile. The older a minor child is, and the closer to 21 years of age, the penalties can be increasingly harsher.
The really important thing about the juvenile system is for the juvenile to learn from their punishment, so they do not come back into the criminal system.
The most important thing for a parent or guardian of a juvenile is to try to protect the juvenile from any violation of their rights. As has been mention, the juvenile system is different and is aimed at rehabilitating the juvenile. You may find that the there is different terminology used in the juvenile system. For instance, trials are not called trials, but are referred to as adjudications.
Another difference is that the defense attorney will negotiate a plea agreement with the State. The court can accept the plea, but at the same time the court can sentence the juvenile to whatever they desire with a wide range of consequences.