Most people have at least a basic understanding of how Ohio’s adult criminal justice system functions. However, not everyone realizes how different it is for juvenile proceedings. If your loved one is under 18 and facing criminal charges, having some understanding of the differences between adult and juvenile proceedings will give you a better idea of what awaits them in the juvenile criminal justice system.

The Juvenile System Is Focused on Rehabilitation Instead of Punishment 

The fundamental difference between the adult and juvenile criminal systems is the aim and approach; the adult system largely centers on punishment for those who break the law.

On the other hand, when a minor defendant finds themselves involved in legal troubles, there is a more rehabilitative role. The underlying belief is that juveniles possess immense potential for change and development – which makes sense, as their brains aren’t even fully developed yet. Thus, the goal is to ensure minors learn from their mistakes while following more positive and productive pathways in the future.

Juveniles Are More Likely To Be Released Pending Their Case

Another key distinction lies in what happens to the defendant while waiting for their case. Juveniles are typically less likely to remain in custody while waiting for their case to be heard when compared to adults facing charges.

This approach stems from the overall intent of juvenile proceedings – rehabilitation rather than punishment. The idea is to keep disruption or punishment to a minimum while prioritizing connection with support systems such as family and school.

Adult defendants don’t automatically stay incarcerated until trial, but it’s more likely to occur in the adult system than in the juvenile system. 

There Is No Jury in The Juvenile System

One significant difference between juvenile and adult criminal proceedings in Ohio revolves around who makes the decision at trial. In juvenile cases, there is no jury; these cases are heard solely before a judge or magistrate. It becomes their responsibility to hear evidence, weigh its merits, and decide on an appropriate course of action.

Conversely, adult defendants in criminal trials have the right to have their cases decided by a group of their peers. This not only affects how an attorney and defendant prepare for a case but can also significantly influence verdicts, as a judge’s legal experience and knowledge are quite different from a jury’s.

Families Are Generally More Involved in Juvenile Cases

One of the unique aspects of juvenile cases is that they often involve family in significant ways. The overall system acknowledges the role that family plays in shaping a young person’s behavior, and the juvenile court believes it’s crucial to work not just with the youth, but also their immediate support network.

From a practical standpoint, as attorneys navigate legal defenses for minors, parents or guardians become an indispensable part of this process. They often collaborate on decisions about defense strategies and will need to be informed about court hearings and other requirements to ensure the juvenile is in compliance.

Adjudicated vs. Guilty

Language plays a significant role in differentiating between the adult and juvenile criminal systems. In adult court, upon conclusion of proceedings, an individual will be found guilty or not guilty.

However, in the juvenile court system, the minor defendant will be adjudicated delinquent if the court believes they have committed the crime; the word guilty will not be used.

Easier To Seal or Expunge Juvenile Records

Another key difference between the juvenile and adult systems exists in the area of expungements and sealing of criminal records. Juvenile offenders generally have an easier time clearing their records than adults do.

Juveniles usually need to go through the court to have their records sealed or expunged, which usually involves a hearing. If a request to have a record sealed is granted, that sealed record will be automatically expunged either after five years pass or when the minor reaches their 23rd birthday – whichever comes first.

Always Work With a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Whenever you or your loved one is involved in a legal situation, it’s extremely important to work with an experienced lawyer. Legal proceedings are complex, and one misstep can significantly impact the outcome of the case 

If you need help with any type of criminal matter – juvenile or adult – don’t hesitate to contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer.

Contact the Cincinnati Criminal Defense Attorneys at Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers For Help Today

For more information, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers give us a call today at (513) 333-0014 or visit us at our Cincinnati Law Office.

Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers – Cincinnati
600 Vine Street, Suite 1004
Cincinnati, OH 45202
United States