Juvenile and Adult Justice Systems

The juvenile justice system is an institution that is concentrated on working with underage people who commit delinquent acts. There are many nuances related to the rights, duties, psychological maturity, and legal status of underage people that are being accused of breaking the law. Due to this, various differences exist in the juvenile justice system when compared to the adult one. Nevertheless, even though they differ in many aspects, there are similarities as well, and a specific basis exists for these similarities and differences to exist.

One of the primary differences between systems lies in the terms applied to them. Adults are convicted of crimes, whereas underage people are prosecuted for delinquent behavior (Decker & Marteache, 2017). If the delinquent activities are very serious, such as murder or other violent offenses, the justice system may elect to prosecute the minor as an adult, and in this case, they will be tried in the usual adult criminal justice system. Instead of a trial being public and engaging a jury, juveniles are judged in what is known as an adjudication hearing. During that type of hearing, a judge considers all of the evidence before deciding whether or not the juvenile is delinquent. If the judge deems that the minor is delinquent, the judge must then decide what should be done next.

The purpose of the adult criminal justice system is to penalize, but the objective of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate and do what is best for the youngster. As a result, several alternative sentencing is employed to keep minors out of prison. Diversionary programs, probation, and parole are some of the options available (Guarino-Ghezzi & Loughran, 2017). Courts in the adult criminal justice system are more formal, whereas courts in the juvenile criminal justice system are more informal. Moreover, in the juvenile justice system, the standards controlling evidence admission are more lenient. To summarize, the primary difference is that the juveniles are tried to be changed and corrected in their behavior, whereas adults are intended to be punished for illegal actions.

Nevertheless, there are many similarities between adult and juvenile justice systems. Both an adult and a juvenile have a right to an attorney, as it is a basic right of a person who is being judged. In any case, every person who is being accused of breaking the law is capable of having an attorney who will defend their rights. As well as the adults, juveniles and their defense have a right to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against them. Another similarity is that juveniles have a right not to incriminate themselves. One of the most important aspects that are incorporated into both adult and juvenile adult systems is that it must be proven that a person is guilty, and such proof must be significant and carefully examined.

Juvenile offenders are defined as people between ten to eighteen years of age in several states. Everybody under the age of eighteen is considered a juvenile, but a person must be ten years old to enter the juvenile justice system. In other areas, however, an offender might be regarded as an adult as early as sixteen to seventeen years old (Lamance, 2020). There are several elements that influence whether a criminal is handled as a juvenile or as an adult. A court system may decide to treat a person as an adult depending on the severity of the offense. A minor who commits murder, for example, may be considered an adult and be judged by the rules of the adult criminal justice system.

There are various reasons why juveniles are tried differently in comparison to adults. The maturity of people under the age of eighteen differs from the adults’, as it is significantly lower. This might lead to impulsive behavior since a juvenile may not have fully considered their options before acting on them. There are major developmental differences between adults and children. Because minors lack the cognitive abilities of adults, youth offenses are frequently punished differently. Children are readily influenced and can be trained to modify their behavior over time. It may take a lot of deliberate effort, but a good transition in the future is certainly feasible.

The criminal justice system treats minors differently in comparison to adults due to their malleability. Youth can learn to make smarter decisions that benefit their community rather than the criminal ones that lead to imprisonment in the juvenile justice system via intense work and programs. In general, juvenile justice places a greater emphasis on rehabilitation (Harris & Mooney, 2019). They offer therapies and initiatives to assist them effectively reintegrate back into society after their time is up. Because of the fundamental disparities between juvenile and adult criminal offenses, criminal justice takes a different approach. Adults are judged purely on the basis of a crime they committed. However, children can be examined with the use of a psychological framework that addresses their social past.

In conclusion, there are many aspects of the juvenile and adult justice systems that are similar and different. The similarities lie in the basic rights of a person who is being accused of breaking the law. The differences are mostly related to the purpose of the court to choose an option that will allow and encourage a juvenile to change their behavior. They are based on the possibility of such correction, whereas it is evident that minors are more likely to be exposed to the external influence on their actions. There are significant differences between an adult and a minor in terms of their ability to control their actions and understand their consequences.


Decker, S. H., & Marteache, N. (Eds.). (2017). International handbook of juvenile justice. Springer International Publishing.

Guarino-Ghezzi, S., & Loughran, E. J. (2017). Balancing juvenile justice. Routledge.

Harris, D. & Mooney, C. (2019). The Juvenile Justice System. ABDO.

Lamance, K. (2020). Juvenile vs. Adult Criminal System. Web.

Video Voice-over

Cite this paper

Select style


LawBirdie. (2023, July 1). Juvenile and Adult Justice Systems. Retrieved from https://lawbirdie.com/juvenile-and-adult-justice-systems/


LawBirdie. (2023, July 1). Juvenile and Adult Justice Systems. https://lawbirdie.com/juvenile-and-adult-justice-systems/

Work Cited

"Juvenile and Adult Justice Systems." LawBirdie, 1 July 2023, lawbirdie.com/juvenile-and-adult-justice-systems/.


LawBirdie. (2023) 'Juvenile and Adult Justice Systems'. 1 July.


LawBirdie. 2023. "Juvenile and Adult Justice Systems." July 1, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/juvenile-and-adult-justice-systems/.

1. LawBirdie. "Juvenile and Adult Justice Systems." July 1, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/juvenile-and-adult-justice-systems/.


LawBirdie. "Juvenile and Adult Justice Systems." July 1, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/juvenile-and-adult-justice-systems/.