Anyone under the age of 18 who commits a crime in Arizona will usually be tried in juvenile court, except in cases of very violent crimes. The juvenile justice system differs from the adult system in several key ways, including:
- Purpose. Juvenile court seeks to rehabilitate young offenders and keep them from committing illegal behaviors again, with the hope that they will become law-abiding adult citizens. Adult court does not take this same approach; rather, it seeks to punish adults for committing unlawful acts.
- Bail. Juveniles do not have the right to post bail. When they are arrested and taken into custody, a probation officer decides if they will be released, or if they will stay in a juvenile detention facility. This decision depends on the severity of the crime, the offender’s criminal record, and many other factors.
- Jury trial. In juvenile court, offenders do not have the right to a jury trial. Instead, a judge makes decisions regarding whether an offender is guilty of the offense he or she has been accused of. The judge also decides upon a suitable sentence.
- Treatment of offenses. Because the juvenile justice system seeks to reform offenders, some minor offenses are actually punished more severely than they would be in adult court. For example, young offenders are sometimes put on longer terms of probation than older ones so that the courts can monitor their behavior. On the other hand, juveniles who are found guilty of more serious crimes may receive shorter sentences than adult offenders, as they will be released in their late teens or early twenties.
- Terminology. Juvenile court uses a very different set of terms than adult court. For example, a trial is called an adjudication hearing; instead of being found guilty, juvenile offenders are found delinquent; and sentencing is called a disposition.
If your child has been arrested for a delinquent act, you need an aggressive defense. The criminal defense firm of Blumberg & Associates in Phoenix can help you through this difficult time and advocate on your child’s behalf. To schedule a consultation in our office, call (602) 277-6180.