adjudicated delinquent | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

The term adjudicated delinquent is used to signify that a juvenile has been found guilty by a judge of committing a delinquent act.

Analogous to a Guilty Verdict in adult criminal court.

The term adjudicated delinquent is used to signify that a juvenile has been found guilty by a judge of committing a delinquent act. The concept of juvenile delinquency refers to illegal behavior committed by minors under a certain age, typically 18 years old, that would be considered criminal if committed by an adult. Juvenile delinquency can include a wide range of offenses, from minor offenses like truancy or curfew violations to more serious crimes such as theft, assault, or even murder.

When a juvenile is accused of committing a delinquent act, they are typically brought before a juvenile court, which is a separate court system designed to handle cases involving minors. The process of adjudicating a delinquent is similar to that of a criminal trial, although there are some important differences.

One key difference is that juvenile court proceedings are generally more informal and less adversarial than adult criminal trials. In addition, juveniles have certain legal rights that are different from those of adult defendants, such as the right to have a parent or guardian present during court proceedings and the right to have an attorney appointed to them if they cannot afford one.

In juvenile court, the judge is responsible for determining whether the juvenile committed the delinquent act that they are accused of. If the judge determines that the juvenile is delinquent, they will issue an adjudication order, which is similar to a guilty verdict in adult criminal court.

The consequences of being adjudicated delinquent can vary depending on the severity of the offense and the specific circumstances of the case. In some cases, the juvenile may be placed on probation, which can include conditions such as attending school regularly, staying away from certain people or places, and attending counseling or other programs. In more serious cases, the juvenile may be sent to a juvenile detention center, which is similar to an adult jail but is designed specifically for minors.

It is important to note that the goal of the juvenile justice system is not just to punish delinquent behavior but also to rehabilitate young offenders and help them get back on track. To this end, juveniles who are adjudicated delinquent may be required to participate in counseling, education programs, or other types of treatment aimed at addressing the underlying causes of their behavior.

The use of the term adjudicated delinquent underscores the fact that juvenile court proceedings are not just a matter of punishing criminal behavior but also of determining what is in the best interests of the child. Juvenile court judges have a responsibility to consider the unique needs and circumstances of each individual juvenile and to make decisions that will help them grow and develop into productive members of society.

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Last Modified: 04/15/2023


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