Comparing Adult Crime and Juvenile Crime

January 9, 2015
Comparing Adult Crime and Juvenile Crime

There are numerous differences between the how the criminal justice system handles adult crime and how it handles juvenile crime.

Differences Between Adult Crime and Juvenile Crime Systems

  • While adults are prosecuted for “committing crimes,” juveniles are prosecuted for “delinquent acts.” This does not mean that delinquent acts are less serious. They can be considered as crimes and that juvenile can be tried through the adult crime system.
  • Juveniles are not tried in public trial by jury. If a juvenile is charged with a crime, the hearing is called an adjudication hearing, during which a judge hears evidence and rules on whether or not the juvenile is delinquent.
  • If a juvenile is deemed delinquent, the court determines the next action that should be taken.
  • In the adult system the goal is often to punish, while in the juvenile system, the goal is rehabilitation and serving the minor’s best interest. Because of this, there are more alternative sentences to keep a juvenile out of jail, including: probation, parole, and diversionary programs.
  • Juvenile courts tend to be more informal than adult courts.


There are also similarities between the two systems, including:

  • The right to an attorney
  • The right to confront and cross-examine witnesses
  • The privilege against self-incrimination
  • The right to notice of the charges
  • The prosecution must provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt before a person can be convicted

Working with an Attorney

If your child has been accused of a delinquent act, you should immediately contact a criminal defense lawyer. An experience attorney can lead you through the juvenile crime system while educating you about your rights and defenses.

Source: Legal Match, Juvenile vs. Adult Criminal System, 2014

The Law Office of Peter Berlin – Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
16130 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 570, Los Angeles, CA 91436
(310) 289-5418
(310) 289-5418