If you or a loved one get arrested when you’re under 18, the process can be completely different than being arrested as an adult. Everything from how you are arrested to how you will be tried can vary greatly. Here is a quick breakdown of the differences.
The aim is not prison
In general, more mercy is shown to juveniles. The courts tend to be more lenient in regards to charging with felonies if they can go with misdemeanors and law enforcement officers are more likely to arrest and release the juvenile into the care of their parent or guardian as opposed to bringing them into the station. There also tends to be more emphasis on looking into if the juvenile has had any past history of neglect or abuse that may be making them more inclined to act out in illegal ways. Truly the aim of the court is to try and keep juveniles from becoming repeat offenders who end up in a life behind bars. That said, however, if the crime is serious enough or there have been repeated offenses, especially in a violent manner, the courts will no choice but to try as an adult but even then it is on a case-by-case basis and most likely won’t be as severe as an adult.
Bail is not used for juveniles
When a juvenile is arrested, bail is not an option. When an adult is arrested, in most cases a set bail will be offered to negotiate for release until a hearing but in the case of juveniles, most likely what will happen is the courts will release the juvenile into custody of their parent or guardian with them making the parent responsible for assuring that their child shows up to all their schedules hearings. If there is not a responsible adult to release them to or the juvenile committed a serious enough crime, then they will be held in a juvenile detention facility until their hearing.
There is no jury
In adult cases, a judge will listen to the arguments and hand down a sentence, but a jury would make the call as to whether or no they are found guilty. This is not the case for juveniles. Judges alone will decide guilt and punishment. These also tend to be closed hearings while most adult hearings are open to the public. Though in some states, and for more serious charges, there still could be a public hearing.