Adult vs Juvenile Trials: Key Differences Worth Noting

Stockton Criminal Law AttorneyAt the Jacot Law Firm, we are often asked about the differences between juvenile and adult criminal trials. It’s a reasonable question, as the lines can become blurred and rules vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For this post, we want to spend some time talking about juvenile trials, defining who falls under this classification, and providing an overview of how juvenile trials proceed.

If you still have questions afterwards, remember that we at the Jacot Law Firm are more than happy to answer all your questions! For now, here’s a rundown on juvenile trials in California.

Who is Classified as a Juvenile?

Generally speaking, a juvenile is anyone who falls between the ages of 0-18. This can vary, however, as some jurisdictions place the cut-off at 16, and try anybody over that cut-off as an adult. Furthermore, if the facts of a given case warrant an adult trial, young individuals could be tried as adults instead.

Adjudication Hearings

Juvenile trials are very different than adult trials, as they don’t involve a trial by jury. Rather, juveniles are subjected to adjudication hearings, a type of trial where a judge listens to the facts at hand and hands down a ruling. Although juveniles are not entitled to a trial by jury, they are still afforded many of the same rights that adults get, including the right to a legal defense and adequate representation.

Juveniles are Entitled to Legal Defense

As judges have full discretion over adjudication hearings, they have to follow established guidelines when determining whether a juvenile defendant is innocent or guilty. While these guidelines are primarily geared for rehabilitation rather than punishment, a juvenile defendant should still consult with a qualified criminal defense attorney.

The ideal outcome for a juvenile defendant is to be cleared of all charges, an outcome that is difficult to attain without proper legal representation. This is why, at the Jacot Law Firm, we always advocate that all juveniles talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney before moving forward with an adjudication hearing.

Remember, we at the Jacot Law Firm are here to help! To learn more, and to speak with a qualified legal professional, don’t hesitate to call us directly at 209-463-1800.