The possible penalties that a juvenile offender may receive usually depend on the age of the individual and if the court will try him or her as a juvenile or an adult. The factors may specifically rely on the severity of the crime and all elements of the offense to include the injury or death of the victim involved in the situation.
Penalties Based on Age
Generally, a person under the age of eighteen will receive penalties from juvenile offenses based on his or her age. These offenses could, however, increase in severity which may also change the possible punishments. The judge will usually decide how best to proceed based on the possible remorse of the individual for the crime committed or how he or she acts in the courtroom. The age of someone under twelve may decrease penalties significantly because the child may not understand the consequences of his or her actions. Someone that is eighteen to 22 usually will face the most severe punishments because the judge will see this person has an adult.
The judge in these proceedings may also apply other factors to the situation depending on the person in the courtroom. If the youth has a disability, does not understand legal processes or is from a country where his or her actions are not illegal, the judge may give leniency. Some individuals will still proceed through juvenile courts even when eighteen to 22 based on some of these or other factors. In the end, it is up to the judge how best to decide what penalties apply and when it is appropriate to convict the individual as a minor or an adult.
Children under the Age of Twelve
While most minors that commit crimes will face a judge through juvenile court, those that are under the age of twelve generally will not proceed through this same situation. The youth is often too young to understand the criminal justice system and will not face prosecution. The young person will face his or her parents and a youth care office with some criminal activity. Counseling or someone in these agencies will provide assistance to determine the cause of the child’s actions. However, if the crimes get out of hand or become a continued issue, the courts may appoint a family supervisor to monitor and decide what to do next.
The HALT Program
Some offenses lead to the use of the Hunger Anger Loneliness and Tiredness program used to prevent crime with juveniles. The youth is given the opportunity and chance to right the wrong done. Apologies to the victim are one instance of this program at work. Other times, the child must pay for the damage caused such as vandalism with property. When obligations are complete and fulfilled as considered successful by program sponsors, the youth will no longer have a criminal record in place. Those seeking to use this program may decide it is necessary with certain at-risk teens.
Juvenile Detention Center
While there are many alternatives available through programs, community service and outreach and even counseling that may provide a means of rehabilitation, the youth may also face incarceration through a juvenile detention center. The judge may determine that the best way to scare the young person into seeking a way out of criminal activity is to place him or her in the facility for a short duration. Other judges will use this penalty as a way to enforce the possible ramifications that are possible based on the actions of the minor. If no other alternative is sufficient for the crimes or the young person is not scared enough, the detention center is the only way to punish him or her.
There are certain programs and even community service that a juvenile will have as one penalty if the crime is minor in nature.
However, the judge may issue community service or other unpaid work as an addition to different punishments. The goal is to train the youth to work for others in providing a service to the community and improve the neighborhood in most circumstances.
Legal Help with Juvenile Penalties
When a youth commits a crime, he or she may need to hire a lawyer to help mitigate the possible penalties and damage of incarceration or other punishments that are more severe. By presenting the case to the judge, it is possible to receive a lesser sentence that still makes the mark and helps to rehabilitate the teen.