4 Differences Between Adult and Juvenile Crimes and Prosecutions

Crimes can be committed by adults and children alike, although how they are interpreted and dealt with can differ significantly between these two groups.

Let’s look at the major distinctions in more detail and discuss the repercussions and solutions facing those accused of crimes across different age brackets.


Understanding Basic Distinctions: Adult versus Juvenile Crimes

Juvenile and adult crimes aren’t regarded in the same light. Juvenile law generally governs individuals under 18 who engage in unlawful acts. These actions are often termed ‘delinquent acts’, not crimes.

On the other hand, adult crime applies to anyone above the legal age of majority, usually eighteen years old, who commits an offense. Unlike juveniles, adults face heavy punitive consequences like imprisonment or fines.

Key differences include:

  • Age of offender
  • Legal terminology (crime vs delinquent act)
  • Severity and type of punishment after conviction.

These variances underscore just how differently both our society and legal system view and handle these two distinct categories of offenses.

Criminal Lawyers May Have a Specialist Juvenile Division

Juvenile law requires specialized knowledge in its application and practice. Accordingly, many criminal law firms like Marshall Criminal Defense have set up dedicated juvenile divisions.

This specialist team is tasked with understanding the unique complexities of juvenile offending cases and providing tailored defense strategies.

Moreover, lawyers work hard to handle juvenile cases discreetly to not hinder young defendants’ prospects. As with any criminal case, it’s an example of why you must work with a knowledgeable, experienced specialist.

The Implication of Age on Criminal Responsibility and Sentencing

Under the complex category of criminal law, an offender’s age often dictates criminal responsibility and sentencing outcomes. This begins with establishing a minimum age for liability, typically around 10-14 years old globally.

The US has an unusual record for not imposing minimum prosecutable ages across 24 states, which is inconsistent with the approaches adopted in most other international regions. That said, the age of criminal responsibility is set at 18 in the majority of states, with only a handful dipping below this.

In terms of juvenile crime:

  • Offenders can’t be tried as adults or held in adult facilities.
  • Courts consider mitigating factors like home life or external pressures affecting the minor to inform sentences.

Adult offenders face a different scenario:

  • They are presumed to have a full understanding that their actions were unlawful.
  • Punishments tend to be harsher since they serve as deterrents from committing future offenses.

There’s a significant divergence when dealing with these two categories of justice based purely on offender age.


Differences in Procedures and Rehabilitation Between Adult and Juvenile Cases

Sweeping variations exist in how adult cases are adjudicated versus juvenile ones.

For adults:

  • The process is usually transparent with open court proceedings.
  • There’s a strong emphasis on rights, such as the right to a trial by jury.

Juveniles face different procedures:

  • Courts often prioritize privacy, resulting in closed hearings.
  • A judge typically makes the final decision instead of a jury.

Regarding rehabilitation, the adult approach uses incarceration as a form of punishment, while young offenders enter into a system that prioritizes reform over retribution. Think behavioral therapy, skill-building programs, and education rather than just detention. 

By focusing on minor-specific needs and confidentiality while limiting exposure to harsh sentencing norms seen in adult cases, our society tries to offer youngsters better chances at turning their lives around.

Wrapping Up

While the repercussions for juvenile crimes may be comparatively lenient, that does not mean any criminal accusation should be treated lightly by people in this age group. Having solid legal representation and knowing your rights is a must.