Increase in juvenile delinquency is perhaps the most equivocal factor that has generated varied interpretations across different societal contexts. As such, there is a need for a criminal justice system that deals with juveniles who are involved in different criminal offenses. Notably, juvenile laws provide certain rights to children accused of different criminal offenses. The inception of juvenile rights in the criminal justice system dates back to the year 1967 (Cole & Smith, 2009), when children were accorded certain rights, which were not accorded in the preceding years. On the other hand, the constitution(s) of different countries articulates on a number of rights that should be afforded by juveniles in the events of arrest for different offenses.
The scope of juvenile rights
As articulated by the Miranda warnings, juveniles have a right to counsel; hence they have a right to request for counsel in the events of their arrest. As such, during the delinquency proceedings, juveniles are entitled to a right of representation by counsel. Notably, juveniles can remain silent during such proceedings and this right should be emphasized to delinquent juveniles in an understandable approach (Cole & Smith, 2009). On the other hand, the Miranda warnings further articulate on juvenile right to legal representation.. Many at times, a number of juveniles cannot afford to secure legal representation. Juvenile rights cater for such cases whereby legal representatives are appointed for such juveniles before being questioned by the relevant authorities.
Overall, juvenile rights are founded on the basis that they are not accorded rights to represent themselves during any delinquency proceedings due to lack of well informed consent. For this reason, during different custodial interrogations, juveniles have a right to confer with their legal representatives (Sherman & Jacobs, 2011). In addition, interrogation of juveniles is considered in the events where they request for legal representation. It is worth noting that professional values are upheld when interrogating both adults and juveniles. Nonetheless, interrogative and investigation techniques utilized when interrogating juveniles are closely evaluated by the courts to ensure compliance with juvenile rights as articulated in the constitution. Juveniles parents are also allowed to be in attendance during interrogation sessions. Deductively, juveniles are afforded right to legal representation, which is not guaranteed to adult offenders. Difference also exists in the fact that juvenile rights enable juveniles to afford protection from intensive interrogations, which are not afforded to adult offenders.
Juveniles are further entitled rights against self-incrimination. Speaking of self-incrimination, this refers to the confession of one’s criminal offenses, which can warrant your prosecution. Juveniles lack adequate understanding of the self-incrimination concept. As such, juveniles have an increased likelihood making true confessions of their criminal offenses, which leads to eventual prosecution (Cole & Smith, 2009). Juvenile right against self-incrimination protects juveniles from such instances. This right is applicable during different delinquent proceedings including police questioning. Since juveniles are likely to make true confessions, it is not a must for them to testify during the hearing of cases filed against them. Moreover, juveniles are protected from self-incrimination aligned to confessions as they can remain silent and fail to answer questions in the events of their arrest. Competent confessors can also be afforded to juveniles to guide them in making precise decisions. Juvenile rights against self-incrimination are further protected by the fact that confessions cannot be sought from juveniles without the consent of their parents. Rights against self-incriminations are accorded to adults in a relatively lower magnitude when compared to juveniles. This is because adults are considered capable of making informed decisions based on the case accusations facing them.
As articulated by the IV amendment on search and seizure, everyone is protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. Therefore, this amendment protects juveniles from unwarranted searches and seizures unless decided otherwise by the courts. With regard to school premises, courts have to engage initiated inquiries on different fact that may warrant searches to be carried out in schools. For this reason, juvenile protection against search and seizure in school contexts is dependent on court rulings.
Comparison of rights accorded to juveniles in comparison those accorded to adults
Notably, juveniles do not afford right to self representation, which is afforded by adult offenders. Therefore, prior the commencement of delinquency proceedings, parents of the accused juvenile offenders are informed and given information on different juvenile rights so that they can make an adequate choice on the legal representation system to use. On the other hand, juvenile affords protection against psychological and emotional damage caused by widespread knowledge of allegations against them. Precisely, hearings of juvenile cases can be closed from the public upon request (Cole & Smith, 2009), thus ensuring confidentiality of such delinquent proceedings. This is different from adult cases whereby hearings are open for the public and the media.
In conclusion, juveniles arrested for different criminal offenses should be given adequate information on different matters concerning juvenile offense. Parent and guardians should be informed of the arrest and juvenile rights should be spelt to the concurrently. Juvenile rights contained in the Miranda warnings should further be explained to juveniles using an understandable approach. Juveniles should further be given legal representation and their confessions be guided to avoid self-incrimination.
Cole, G., & Smith, C. (2009). The American system of criminal justice, international edition.
New York: Cengage Learning.
Sherman, F., & Jacobs F. (2011). Juvenile justice: Advancing research, policy, and practice.
London: John Wiley & Sons