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Juvenile Courts

A System In Place For Children

A juvenile court is a special court that handles cases of delinquent, dependent, or neglected children under the age of 18. These courts are often a division of the state or county court system so each state follows separate mandates in the administration of juvenile courts. The same offense committed by youths in different states is subject to different rules and punishment. Some states only deal with youths up to age 17. Others allow serious cases, such as murder or armed robbery, to be transferred to adult courts involving youths as young as 11 years old. In most states, however, the juvenile courts have concurrent jurisdiction with adult courts for youths between the ages of 15 and 18. Youths adjudicated delinquent and who have been judged guilty of unlawful acts receive both a juvenile and adult sentence. The juvenile sentence is served first and adult sentence goes into effect in one of two circumstances: an incarcerated juvenile turns 21 and is sent to an adult prison to complete his or her sentence; or the juvenile is not responding to rehabilitation so the adult sentence goes into effect.

Though each state administers juvenile courts differently, all children's courts are dedicated to protecting the child's privacy and best interests. Rather than determining the guilt of a child in court cases, emphasis is placed on the best course of action to rehabilitate the child. A child comes before a juvenile court in one of three circumstances: delinquency, status offenses, or abuse or neglect. Depending on the circumstances, the procedures of the juvenile court differ slightly.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationGreat American Court CasesJuvenile Courts - A System In Place For Children, Types Of Cases Handled In Juvenile Court, Development Of Juvenile Courts