When Juveniles are tried as Adults in a Criminal Court

When Juveniles are tried as Adults in a Criminal Court


Juvenile courts were established in America about a hundred years ago and they have been used for trying children. Juvenile courts are those courts, which have been established for the prosecution of the children who have committed crimes. They were created with the aim of rehabilitation and not as a form of punishment (Barrett, 2006). In recent years, some of the American states have taken a radical change concerning the juvenile courts. They have decided to review some of the cases and they have come into a conclusion that some juvenile cases should be transferred into an adult court of law. This means that some of the juveniles will be tried like adults as opposed to what was happening before.


Juvenile cases may be tried as adults, due to some several reasons, which might have been proven valid. One of the reasons is because of the nature of their cases. Some of the juveniles usually commit crimes, which if they were put together with other juveniles, they will pose a threat to them. Cases of robbery with violence and murder usually pose a threat to the juvenile inmates who are petty offenders (Cornel & Murrie, 2011). They might train the others how to perform these crimes instead of them being rehabilitated. Additionally, they might harm the other inmates since they are a danger to the society yet those other juveniles are youths who have committed petty offences therefore, they are not a threat to the society. Moreover, juvenile courts were established as a form of rehabilitation and not as a form of punishment. This means that some of these cases should only be punished instead of just rehabilitating because the offender is most likely to repeat the mistake if he is not punished.

Another factor that has led to children being prosecuted as adults is that some of the juveniles are repeated offenders of the same cases. This means that they have committed the same crime more than once and they have been detained in the juvenile centre’s before. This shows that the juvenile has not yet been rehabilitated in the first time he or she was there; therefore, he or she would have to be taken to the adult court so that he or she can been rehabilitated by professionals. This is because the juvenile courts have not been able to rehabilitate them. Moreover, these juveniles might have proved themselves hardcore criminals because they have continuously performed these criminal offences. Therefore, they pose a threat to the other juveniles because they might train them or they might harm them when they are in the detention centres.

The prosecutors of these cases might decide that the cases should be tried in an adult court instead of a juvenile court because of the magnitude of the case or the history of the juvenile. The prosecutors in some states have the power to decide which court the juvenile should be tried in relation to the crimes they have committed or the history of the juvenile. In this case, the judge of the adult courts might disagree with the prosecutor depending with the information the prosecutor has availed in relation to the juvenile being tried in an adult court (Damme, 2011). Therefore, we can say that the prosecutor has powers to decide where the case should be tried, whether in the juvenile court or in the adult court, but his decision can be overruled by a judge of the adult court.

The age limit, which a child should be prosecuted in a court of law, differs with different states and most of them have reasons as to why. For example, in Missouri, a twelve year should be convicted in an adult court if he has committed a crime of the fourth and fifth nature. The fourth are those cases, which involve violence like robbery with violence. The fifth cases are those cases that involve murder and they are very hardcore. On the other hand, some states like New York have an age limit of fifteen years. In these instances, it means that the juveniles can be tried in an adult court if they have attained the age limits to be tried in an adult court. However, parents of the juveniles are advised to read the several rights, which involve the juvenile courts and how a case can be taken into an adult court because the juvenile can be taken to the court wrongfully.

Additionally, the juveniles may have not matured enough to be tried in the adult courts, like the twelve year olds. This is because they will not be able to take care of themselves when they are in the prisons like the adults. Additionally, there brain will not have been developed fully making it easy for the adults to manipulate their behavior (Gale group & Gale research Inc, 2000). This will lead to them being changed into hardcore criminals instead of becoming good citizens of the society after they have served their sentences. Therefore, the judges should come up with other methods of dealing with these cases. Moreover, some juvenile judges use maturity as a way of determining whether the juvenile should be taken into an adult court or not. Therefore, it can be one way of determining whether a juvenile should be tried in an adult court or not.

Another reason as to why the juvenile should be tried in an adult court is because in the recent past, their has been a rise of juvenile cases with most of them being viscous like in Colorado where a student shot his both parents and two of his classmates. The states have given the reason that these juveniles should be tried in the adult court as a way of toughening crime in relation to juveniles. When the other kids have seen what has happened to their friends whom they were crime collaborates are tried as adults, most likely they will be scared, eventually reforming them into good students. Therefore, when children are tried as adults, they are used as a form of teaching to the other children who might be having the potential of committing a crime. Hence, it can be said to work psychologically.

On the other hand, juveniles should not be tried in an adult court of law because they may go into the prisons and instead of being rehabilitated, they become trained on how to commit crimes. In the different prisons, there are convicts who might influence the behaviors of the child leading to the training of the child as a criminal. Therefore, instead of the juvenile reforming, he is trained and hardened. When he moves back in the society, instead of becoming a good person he becomes a threat to the society. This leads to the destruction of the child’s life rather than the molding of the behavior of the child into a good person in the society. Therefore, juveniles should not be taken into the adult court but instead, a way should be designed to deal with these hard cases.

Moreover, most people have claimed that when these children are tried like adults and they are taken into the prisons, they have high chances of being molested as compared to when they are adults or another adult is taken into the same prison. These juveniles are usually small children as compared to the adults who might be even twenty-three years and very energetic (Michon, 2011). These adults might molest the child using their physical and emotional strength. Therefore, these states should consider another way of dealing with these cases before taking the young juvenile into the adult courts. However, this does not mean that the juvenile cases should be taken lightly because, they will repeat their offences if they are taken lightly and at this time they might cause more harm than before.


Many people might argue that these juveniles should be tried in an adult court because it will do more harm than good. It can be very true because they might be trained into hardcore criminals instead of being rehabilitated. However, they might be molested when they are in the prisons because they do not have the ability to take care of themselves like the way adults do, leading to a lot of emotional break down. On the other hand, if they were taken lightly, instead of rehabilitating they might become worse therefore; they should be tried as adults depending with what they have done.



Barrett, C. J.  (2006). “Treating “Youth Tried as Adults” as Kids: Parents Patriae in a Criminal Court” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Montreal Convention Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Online <PDF>. 2011-03-14 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p104091_index.html

Cornel, D. G. & Murrie, D. C. (2011). History of juvenile courts. State University. Retrieved from: http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/2143/Juvenile-Justice-System.html

Damme, Y. V. (2011). Reasons for Having a Juvenile Tried in an Adult Court. eHow.com. Retrieved from: http://www.ehow.com/info_7993046_reasons-juvenile-tried-adult-court.html

Gale group & Gale research inc. (2000). American law yearbook. New York, NY: GaleResearch

Michon, K. (2011). When Juveniles Are Tried in Adult Courts. NOLO Law for All. Retrieved from: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/juveniles-youth-adult-criminal-court-32226.html


Still stressed from student homework?
Get quality assistance from academic writers!

WELCOME TO OUR NEW SITE. We Have Redesigned Our Website With You In Mind. Enjoy The New Experience With 15% OFF