Written Assignment 3: Juvenile Delinquency

Written Assignment 3: Juvenile Delinquency


Engagements of young people usually between the ages of 10 to 17 years into criminal activities are known as juvenile delinquency. It also refers to those children that demonstrate mischievousness or disobedience persistently to the extent that they are regarded as out of parental control and thus subject to legal action by a court of law (Krisberg, 2018). On the other hand, the adult justice system is the trial of the lawbreakers who have already attained the age of 18 years and above. Apprehending of the juveniles has become a common phenomenon in pre-modern society. In the past four years, there have been at least 6, 318 arrests in every 100, 000 youths between age 10 to 17. In 2010, the US handled about 1.5m delinquency cases involving juveniles charged with illegal activities. Studies indicate that more adolescents are being processed through the court system much more compared to the extent to which other forms of crime are committed. The high rate of juvenile involvement in the criminal justice system has posed problems not only to parents and schools but also communities, and this has led to some of them be treated as adults by the criminal system.

Literature review

Several studies have been conducted in the past to try and research more juvenile and adult justice systems. These studies have also investigated the scenarios to find out whether there are instances when a juvenile should be treated by the system as an adult. According to Hoffmann, (2015), the author begins by claiming that families are one of the most influential forces in an individual’s life as they sculpture the behavior of the child by cutting off the unacceptable traits, delay gratification, and insist on the need to respect others in all ways and most especially their rights (Hoffmann, 2015). On the contrary, the same families may end up instilling aggressive, violent and antisocial behavior to the youngsters. Regarding adults, the author states that family-based responsibilities may generate significant stabilizing energy (Hoffmann, 2015). Under these conditions, the author argues that family life may facilitate the development of not only delinquent behaviors but also criminal tendencies in youths.

Another research by (Krisberg, 2018), was able to find out that there are certain instances when juveniles can be treated by the system as adults. The study found out that anyone who is above the age of 14 years in the state of California can be tried as an adult for committing serious crimes. Examples of serious crimes involve those of murder, robbery with a weapon, and rape. The prosecutor in the juvenile court can decide to transfer these cases to the adult justice system if they qualify to be serious crimes. Another study by Jonson-Reid, Dunnigan, & Ryan, (2018), was able to find out that some states like Illinois, Texas, Florida, New York and Tennessee all have the provisions of transferring the juveniles to the adult system to be tried there. The study also unearthed that these transfers are very dangerous because the juvenile is likely to face the same sentence and fines that an average adult would face for the same offenses.

Comparing and contrasting the juvenile and adult justice systems

There exist some similarities and differences between both the juvenile and adult justice systems. To begin with the similarities, one of them is that both the juveniles and adults are given the right to have an attorney to represent them in the court of law. A second similarity is that both the systems allow the offenders the right to examine and cross-examine the witnesses. Both systems also can assert the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination for the juvenile and the adult.(Krisberg, 2018). Lastly, both the justice systems accuse the convicts or the suspects in the same way, and the prosecution is also required to prove beyond reasonable doubt in both systems.

One of the differences between the two systems is that in the juvenile court the juvenile does not have the right of trial by a jury but in the adult’s system there exists the provision for a jury. In the juvenile court systems, the prosecution intends to rehabilitate the teenagers and not to punish them. However, in the adult system, this is different where the intentions are to punish the offenders and to make it a lesson to other people who might be having the same intentions as the convict. Another difference between the two systems is that the juvenile system is always lenient when it comes to the delivery of the verdict. Some of the convictions of the juvenile involve referring them to therapy or sending them to do community services. On the other hand, for the adult system, it is different whereby the adults may face jail sentences or hefty fines for their crimes.

Treating of the juveniles as adults by the system

It is also important to note that not all juvenile cases are decided using the juvenile justice system. The traditional law required that everyone who was 18 years and below was to be tried and convicted by a juvenile court. However, as time passed by almost all states are giving the provisions where a juvenile can be convicted in the adult justice system. These provisions vary from one state to the other and examples of states that allow for a juvenile to be convicted in the adult systems include Illinois, Texas, Florida, New York, Tennessee among others. One way this can take place is through a judicial waiver where some states allow the judges to convert the case into an adult system if they feel like(Jonson-Reid, Dunnigan, & Ryan, 2018). Another way is through the “ones an adult always an adult” rule. This rule applies in some states where if a juvenile had previously been convicted through the adult system it would mean that the subsequent cases would follow the same system without going back.

On other occasions, the trial of a juvenile by an adult system depends on the type of crime that the minor had committed. Examples of these crimes include those of murder, robbery with a weapon, and rape. These are said to be very serious crimes, and some states call for the offenders to be tried in the same way as the adults. Another instance where a juvenile may be treated as an adult is by the direct file. This is where the prosecutor is given the powers by the state to decide whether the case should take place in a juvenile court or an adult court.

Counter argument

Nearly every topic of research or proposal may never lack those who critique and offer their different opinion on the same. According to Guarino-Ghezzi, (2017), he argued that the whole concept of treating the juvenile and minors as adults in the criminal systems is wrong. This he said was because the minors mind is very young and tender and may not be in a position to make the right decisions at all times. He added that instead of having to convict them as adults it was better to offer to counsel to them which he termed as the best way. Another research by Ziedenberg, (2016), also disagreed with the treatment juveniles as adults by the system. This he termed as making irrelevant the presence of the juvenile courts which are the ones responsible for convicting the adults. He also termed this as the deprivation of power form the juvenile court judges since converting juvenile cases to the adult courts would mean that they did not have the capability of convicting them.

The aim of the juvenile courts is always to rehabilitate the minors and turn them into useful people rather than having to punish them. Treating of the juveniles as adults by the system, therefore, works against the achievement of this course as argued by (Kolivoski, Goodkind, & Shook, 2017).  Time should be given to the juvenile convicts to change their behavior while still at a young age until they achieve the age of 18 years where they are termed as adults.Just in the same way adults cannot be treated as juveniles by the system, it is the same way the juveniles should not be treated as adults while yet they are not.


The community as a whole should work towards the helping of the juveniles from indulging in criminal behaviors. Aggressive behavior in a child’s earlier life may cause problems in the classroom, and this may result in the child receiving unfavorable and poor evaluations from tutors as well as peers. As a result, the teen develops terrible behaviors which may lead them into indulging to criminal activities. These cases have been on the rise in recent years, and an urgent course of action should be taken to try and stop them. Lastly, the whole judicial systems as a whole should come up with ways through which they can help minimize and rehabilitate the cases of juvenile criminals. At a young age, the possibility of them succeeding is very high than when they are already grown up adults.




Hoffmann, J. P. (2015). Parenting and Delinquency. The Handbook of Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Justice,161-180. doi:10.1002/9781118513217.ch12

Krisberg, B. A. (2018). Explaining Juvenile Criminal Behavior. Juvenile Justice and           Delinquency,161-174. doi:10.4135/9781506329215.n13

Guarino-Ghezzi, S. (2017). Balancing juvenile justice.Routledge.

Ziedenberg, J. (2016). You’re an adult now: Youth in adult criminal justice systems.

Kolivoski, K. M., Goodkind, S., & Shook, J. J. (2017). Social justice for crossover youth: The       intersection of the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Social work62(4), 313- 321.

Jonson-Reid, M., Dunnigan, A., & Ryan, J. (2018).Foster Care and Juvenile Justice           Systems. Handbook of Foster Youth, 456.

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