Juvenile Justice System

Juvenile Justice System






Juvenile Justice System

The justice system places offenders in various categories depending on the age of the offender and the type of offence committed by the offender. The justice system describes the status offense as a non-criminal act considered a violation of the law only because of the status of the offender as a minor. Various states in the United States of America have a definition of a minor most commonly ranging from below the age of fifteen to below the age of eighteen. The most common types of status offenses include truancy, run-aways, curfew violations, ungovernable or incorrigible youth and underage drinking. The punishment or correction given to status offenders varies from state to state but most commonly results in correction in the form of detention, adjudication or disposition among others.

Juvenile offenders on the other hand are also known as delinquents in the justice system. Juvenile offenders are described as individuals below the age of eighteen years who violate the law of the state or that of the United States of America or of any city or county, which defines crime. This is an individual who after having been found by the juvenile court to fit in the requirements, fails to obey any order of the juvenile court, which may adjudge the individual to be a ward of the court. These include criminal acts such as shoplifting, burglary and murder among others. The differences between the juvenile offender and the status offender include: the juvenile offender is more likely to repeat the offense as compared to the status offender. The younger offender is more likely to shift between status offense and delinquency as compared to the older offender.

The juvenile offender progresses through the juvenile justice system in various stages. The first encounter is through arrest by law enforcement. The law enforcement officer determines if the individual should be detained and charged, released or transferred elsewhere. When a juvenile court case may then be formally or informally heard or dropped depending on the decision of the intake officer at the juvenile probation department. During informal hearing, the offender admits guilt and accepts to settle the charges by meeting court requirements. Formal hearings are classified as either delinquency petitions that ask the court to declare the youth delinquent or waiver petitions that ask that the case be transferred to a criminal court. The case is then heard and the judge makes their ruling.


Heilbrun, K., E, N., Goldstein, S., & Redding, R. E. (2005). Juvenile Delinquency. Oxford University Press.