Juvenile Prosecutions and Juvenile Courts

I’m trying to study for my Law course and I need some help to understand this question.

Chapter 5, Juvenile Crime Today

Background: Since the 1900’s sociologists have been trying to explain juvenile crime and juvenile delinquency. Factors such as the home life and lack of parenting, peer pressure in school, living in poor neighborhoods and children growing up too fast with all of the exposure to electronic media are reasons often given to explain delinquency. A juvenile is someone who has not reached their 18th birthday.

My experience as a police officer taught me that kids from all aspects of life, rich and poor, with and without both parents at home, engage in criminal activity. Although arrests seem to be declining, there is an increase in violent crime among young adults and juveniles.

In California, under Proposition 21, a child as young as 14 years of age can be prosecuted directly in adult court under the Welfare and Institutions Code section 707(d)(2) after approval from a judge. There are many crimes listed in this section whereby a case may be held in adult court, including murder, robbery, rape, etc.

Research shows that criminal justice professionals and the general public disagree at which age a child becomes sophisticated enough to know what is right and what is wrong, understands the consequences of their act, and the impact of their act on society.

In California a juvenile is a person who has not yet reached their 18th birthday and as such is diverted away from adult proceedings unless it can be determined that the juvenile has a criminal record, an elevated age of sophistication, and the offense is very serious such as first-degree murder, rape, aggravated assault, and the prosecutor decides to file charges as an adult and a judge makes a final determination through a special hearing. Ages range from 10 and under, 11 and under, 14 and under, 16 and under, up to age 17.

Should juveniles be treated as adults if they commit violent crimes?

a. If yes, starting at what age and what crimes?

b. If no, why not?

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