What is Juvenile Crime?

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  • Written By: Michelle Baugh
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 14 February 2020
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Juvenile crime occurs when an individual under the age of majority acts against the law. A juvenile crime offender can be placed in a detention center designed for minors, a government-run correctional camp or an adult correctional facility, depending on the crime committed. For minor offenses, the juvenile might also be released to the custody of a parent or legal guardian.

In the United States, minors arrested for juvenile crime are usually given a Notice to Appear. This notice can be sent home with the child upon release or it can be mailed. The Notice to Appear lists where the offender must report, as well as the time and date, and it details what statute the minor is being charged with violating. Most states have laws regarding when the Notice to Appear must be sent, which can range from five days before the hearing date for offenders who are in custody, to 10 days prior to the hearing for juveniles who have been released to a parent or guardian.

The procedure for addressing juvenile crime will depend largely on where the child committed the offense. In many cases, juveniles who are cited for lesser offenses will be recommended to a probation department, where they will receive a punishment that can range from payment of a fine to community service to participation in anger-management courses. Once retribution has been paid, the offender doesn't need to report to the probation department again.


More serious offenses usually require the minor to make an appearance in court. At the hearing, the court will make a decision on whether or not the case needs to go to trial. If so, the minor likely will be given a date and asked to retain a defense lawyer. Depending on the country, the court might provide legal services free of charge.

The court can also recommend the minor be placed on probation. Depending on the laws of the country, as well as the minor's previous arrest record and willingness to cooperate with both the prosecutor and defense lawyer, this probation can be either formal or informal. Formal probation requires the minor to report to and comply with the demands of a probation officer. Informal probation may carry fines and community service, but offenders aren't necessarily required to report regularly to a probation officer.

Serious infractions that are classified as felonies might not be charged as juvenile crimes, even if the offender is under the majority age at the time the crime is committed. These felonies include premeditated murder, rape and child molestation, among others. The exact age a juvenile can be tried as an adult depends heavily on the jurisdiction where the crime was committed. For example, in the United States, the State of Colorado requires minors to be at least 12 years of age before they can be tried as adults, whereas the State of California won't try minors younger than 14 years of age as adults.


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Post 2

I think juvenile justice should include the use of juvenile hall over jail if at all possible. Juvenile Hall facilities have teachers and counselors. Time spent in jail after being tried as an adult will have much farther reaching consequences.

When they are released into the ‘real world’, they will have a hard time finding jobs for one example. What if these kids learn their lesson and want to be contributing members of society? Can juvenile facilities be tried before sentencing youth to jail?

Post 1

Children who commit juvenile crimes need rehabilitation. Their punishments should focus much more on education and guidance than being locked up. Is it necessary to keep juvenile offenders in a type of detention facility or jail? I think that sometimes it is. But, can you imagine throwing a 12 or 14 year old into a state prison?

I don’t think it is OK for violent crimes to be committed without punishment just because the offender is young. But why aren’t we making a bigger effort to help these kids? Clearly a young child who carries out a violent crime is imbalanced in more than one way.

Finding a way to help these children, even if they are locked

up, is going to make a much bigger difference than confinement alone. What kind of attitude is a kid going to have after a year or two in jail with adult criminals? Maybe they will be scared straight, or maybe they will end up right back in jail.

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