How Is Juvenile Court Different From Criminal Court?

In the United States, we have two different levels of the justice system-- one of which is designated for children, while the other is equipped to handle adult crimes. To help expand on the subject of juvenile and criminal court, we’ve gone through the key differences, and similarities, that distinguish these two justice systems.

Texas Laws & The Juvenile Court

However, if your child is facing very serious charges, or if they are on the cusp of adulthood, they may be tried as an adult. In Texas, a 17-year-old is automatically tried as an adult, despite the fact that they are not legally considered such until they reach the age of 18. This decision is key because, if convicted, the 17-year-old could be incarcerated alongside seasoned adults decades older, and could be subject to very harsh conditions. In the juvenile system, however, that teenager could be set on a more rehabilitative program, thus improving their future prospects.

Both justice systems allow the accused a right to receive notice of the charges, the right to an attorney, and the court must also show, beyond reasonable doubt, that the defendant is guilty. However, despite these core similarities, there are a great many differences between these two systems.

Criminal Court

  • Formal

  • Case can be heard by either a judge or jury, depending on the circumstances

  • Probation sentences vary

Juvenile Court

  • Less formal

  • No jury trial, the judge will hear the case and make a judgement

  • Probation is typically capped by age 18 or 19

The Key Differences

The biggest difference between these two systems boils down to this: the criminal court aims to punish the wrongdoer, while the juvenile court aims to correct their behavior. In an ideal situation, juvenile courts would guide the child towards a better path, hold them accountable for their past, and show them the road to a brighter future. That said, juvenile correctional facilities can be difficult environments, and protecting your child’s rights before they’re sent to a facility is of the utmost importance.

Let Our Firm Help You

If your child was recently accused of an unlawful act, you need to get in touch with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.We can help protect your child’s rights and freedoms and steer your case towards juvenile court to the best of our abilities. We understand what you’re up against, and we want to help you find the best possible outcome for your child and your family.

Contact The Clark Law Firm today to schedule a consultation with our attorneys.


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