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What are common terms used in the juvenile justice system?


Kids get into mischief sometimes. When that mischief turns into a criminal action, the child might end having to face the juvenile justice system. This system is one that places an emphasis on helping the child instead of just imposing jail sentences on the child. There are several terms people dealing with the juvenile justice system should know.

What is a juvenile delinquent?

A juvenile delinquent is a minor who has done something that is against the law. Instead of being called a criminal, the minor is sometimes referred to as a juvenile delinquent because of the delinquent acts they commit.

What is a delinquent act?

A delinquent act is what the minor does that is against the law. There are two types of delinquent acts that minors might commit: status crime and serious crime. A status crime is something like truancy or staying out past curfew. A serious crime is one that is considered a crime if an adult does the same thing.

What does it mean to be tried as an adult?

Sometimes, a minor does something so bad that the minor will be go through the same criminal justice system process as adult. When that occurs, the minor is being tried as an adult.

What are adjudication, disposition and sentencing?

An adjudication is the process of determining a juvenile’s guilt or innocence. This isn’t done in front of a jury. Instead, it is done in front of a judge or court officer. The disposition is the finding of the adjudication. The sentencing occurs when the court tells the juvenile the penalties of his or her actions and the plan that he or she has to follow.

Going through the juvenile justice system can be troublesome. Making sure you understand the process and know what to expect might help you as you go through the system.

Source: FindLaw, “Juvenile Delinquents,” accessed April. 06, 2015

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