Juvenile Court Essay

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The question of how to treat adolescents in the criminal justice system has always been an issue of examination and reexamination by the United States Supreme Court. Throughout the years, the Court has consistently held that adolescents are entitled to the same due process rights the adults receive. The Court has also persistently held that from a developmental standpoint, youth are different from adults, which impacts how they should be treated by the courts in various areas. Those areas include the waiver of their rights, their culpability and their punishments. One case in particular that describes the U.S. Supreme Court’s major decree in the area of juvenile justice is the landmark court case In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967).

On June 8,
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The proceedings against Gault were conducted by a judge of the Superior Court of Arizona who was designated by his colleagues to serve as a juvenile court judge. The Juvenile court committed Gault to juvenile detention until he attained the age of 21. At that time, no appeal was permitted in juvenile cases by Arizona law; therefore, a habeas petition was filed in the Supreme Court of Arizona and referred to the Superior Court for a hearing. The Superior Court dismissed the petition, and the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed (In re Gault, 1967). The Gaults were unsuccessful in their appeals to the higher Arizona courts regarding the unconstitutionality of the process afforded to juveniles in the state, nevertheless, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari and agreed to hear the case to determine several issues. These issues included whether Arizona’s Juvenile Code violated the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, due to provisions regarding notice, the right to counsel, the right to confront witnesses and the privilege against self-incrimination (In re Gault,

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