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There are several court cases where juveniles have been tried as adults. The process of transfer of a juvenile case into adult criminal court is known as a waiver. A judge may decline a case depending on the seriousness of a case or the previous criminal record of the juvenile offender. In addition to this, a juvenile may be tried as an adult if past rehabilitation efforts applied on the juvenile fail to reform the juvenile. Several people support transfer of juvenile cases to adult systems, since they argue that the sentence will be fairer if the offender is tried in an adult court system. Other people argue that adult court system offers harsh sentences to the juveniles and thus, it is not necessary to try them in this system. It is not necessary to try juveniles in adult court systems.
Four teenagers were charged with driving under influence of alcohol without a driving license in New Jersey. Two of the teenagers were 13 years old, one sixteen years old and the other one 17 years old. According to the judge, it was necessary to charge the two teenagers who were 13 years old in a juvenile court, since they had broken the New Jersey Criminal Code 2C:33-15. According to this code, any person under the legal age who purchases alcoholic beverages, knowingly possesses having no legal right to do this, knowingly takes alcoholic beverages in any public place, school, or motor vehicle is guilty of disorderly offense. When the blood sample of the driver aged 17 was tested by the court, it was discovered that it contained blood alcohol concentration of nine one-hundredths of one percent. He was thus charged with driving under influence of alcohol. When the juvenile court examined his past criminal records, they discovered that he had been previously charged with other serious offenses that included robbing a supermarket at gunpoint. In addition to this, he had a lengthy juvenile record. It was thus necessary to try this juvenile as an adult in order to try reform and prevent him from committing further crimes.
It is necessary to try juveniles as adults due to several reasons. Some critics argue that a crime is a crime no matter what age the offender was while committing it. This is because the victim suffers serious consequences despite the age of the offender. In addition to this, most juvenile courts concentrate on the age factor of an offender instead of concentrating on the crime that the offender commits. Due to this, these courts do not concentrate on punishing the offenders and instead aim to guide the offender not to repeat the same crime. In the above case, if the juvenile was not tried as an adult, he would have been put on probation or just fined despite his previous crimes and violent nature. Most juveniles are also mature enough to see the consequences of their actions.
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According to Gina Savini who prosecutes cases in Cook Country’s juvenile court, if a juvenile is old enough to take a gun and shot, then this juvenile is old enough to take full responsibility of his/her actions. In addition to this, some people argue that juvenile systems are not that efficient. This is because statistics carried out by researchers found out that the overall rate of recidivism for boys was about 77% and 72% for girls in Washington State. Statistics from courts in this state revealed that recidivists committed 50 % of manslaughters and 100 % of murders. Furthermore, adult judiciary system gives more rights to the juveniles. The reason for this is the fact that when the teenager in the above case is tried as an adult, he will be given a jury, good representation and a proper judge. Moreover, adult criminal system helps in locking juveniles in prisons for a longer time. This helps in protection of the society, since the offender will undergo reformation after the prison term ends.
There are several arguments against trying juveniles as adults despite the criminal record of the juvenile or the seriousness of the crime that the juvenile commits. When a juvenile is tried in the adult justice system, he will be exposed to more severe sentence. This is because the juvenile may be sentenced to life sentence or death penalty. In addition to this, some psychologists argue that most adolescents are too emotional or immature to be tried as adults. This is because their process of decision-making may be driven by emotions, peer pressure and cognitive immaturity. Due to this, they may happen to commit crimes that they did not intend to commit. A court also saves money if it convicts an offender in a juvenile court instead of convicting the offender in an adult judicial system. Judges in juvenile courts also have wider range of options to impose as punishment to the junior offender compared to judges in adult courts. This is because judges in juvenile courts may order counseling or impose a curfew on the offender instead of sentencing the offender to jail. It is also easier to seal juvenile court records so that they are not available to the public compared to criminal records from adult court system. Furthermore, there is no rehabilitation in adult prisons and thus, this will prevent the juvenile from reintegrating into the society in future. According to recent research, a conviction in an adult criminal court carries more stigmas compared to a judgment from a juvenile court.
To conclude, it is not necessary to try the above juvenile case in an adult court system. This is because this system exposes the offender to harsher sentences that include life sentence or death penalty. In addition to this, the offender may be immature and thus, his/her decision to commit a crime may have been driven by emotions or peer pressure. Furthermore, judges in juvenile court system have a wider range of punishment options to impose to the juvenile offenders. However, if the juvenile offender has committed serious crimes such as murder, rape or manslaughter and previous efforts have not changed him, then it is necessary to convict this offender as an adult in order to protect the society.
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