Should Juveniles Be Tried as Adults

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There have been ongoing debates on whether juveniles should be tried as adults. Many who argue against having juveniles being tried as adults claim that doing so would cause a lifetime negative effect on the child in question. Juveniles and adults are equally likely to change for good even after committing heinous crimes. Nevertheless, the only way this can be established is by ensuring that the justice system does not reduce or sugarcoat the seriousness of a crime based on the offender’s age. For this reason, the juvenile system has put in place several considerations, such as the age of a juvenile and culpability, to ensure that the punishment a juvenile receives matches the crime committed. When juveniles are tried as adults, it denies them a second chance in life and places unnecessary financial and emotional burdens on their families; hence should be avoided by all means.

A Second Chance

When juveniles are tried as adults, it denies them the chance to have a fresh start even after changing their behavior. Their criminal records are not done away with and may be available to individuals such as landlords and employees. These records could jeopardize their chances to access certain facilities and opportunities. When juveniles are tried as children, they have the privilege of having their criminal records done away with (Scism, 2018). Typically, this happens between 18 to 21 years of age in most states. Usually, individuals who have been convicted of a crime have a hard time looking for jobs. There are few exceptions where the state makes it a rule that no employer should dismiss a job seeker based on their criminal records.

Trying juveniles as adults does not consider the child’s understanding and culpability. Contrary to adults, children lack a proper understanding of the law and the severity of crimes they commit due to their age. That means they are less likely to show remorse, and their response must not be treated like an adult’s response. Courts also have the right to give different punishments to individuals who committed the same crime according to an individual’s level of culpability (Scism, 2018). A lack of proper decision-making skills mainly characterizes children and adolescents since they are still immature and impulsive. With this in mind, it would be unfair for a judge to pass the same judgment on a minor and an adult even though they have committed the same crime.

Financial Burden

When a child is tried in an adult court, the family members incur expenses they would not have incurred if the trial was done in a juvenile court. Family members will be required to pay restitution, court costs, and legal fees since most minors can never meet the costs independently (Bolin et al., 2021). If the juvenile comes from a financially struggling family, the situation can only make their financial needs harder to meet. To a huge extent, it becomes a situation where the family members directly suffer due to the child’s misconduct.

Unfair Trial

Having a juvenile tried as an adult denies them an opportunity to be tried by a jury of peers. For many states, an individual can only participate in a jury if they are old enough to vote. Having this in consideration can then be argued that minors are never given a chance to have their cases reviewed by their authentic peers. Age differences play a significant role in creating a difference in the manner in which individuals think (Guarino-Ghezzi & Loughran, 2017). Every issue must be faced logically to ensure the offender is subjected to an outcome proportional to the crime committed. However, the element of expertise in adult courts may fail to consider culpability when a juvenile is tried as an adult.


Adult correctional systems also offer services not available in the juvenile systems. The juvenile system focuses on offering juveniles school access, giving them a pathway to continue their studies. By being tried as adults, juveniles will have access to services such as mental health support, addiction support, and vocational training that are rarely made available to juveniles (Imperiale, 2018). These services would go a long way in ensuring juveniles continue their education and gain skills necessary for survival after serving their sentences. However, the justice system can incorporate these services into the juvenile system to avoid the need to have juveniles tried as adults.

Having juveniles charged in adult courts help society members participate in the prosecution. Usually, only the presiding judge has the right to give an outcome on the proceedings in a juvenile court (Fountain & Woolard, 2018). The judge determines the juvenile’s guilt or innocence and the terms they should serve. However, the juvenile courts can have a provision that allows society members to give their ideas on what direction they think the case should take without trying juveniles as adults.


Many states agree that juveniles should not be tried as adults. It is the case since most juveniles are not mature enough to make the best decisions as much as they may engage in premeditated crime. Research also shows that juveniles are more likely to commit unintentional crimes than adults. Other studies have also shown that most juveniles are less conversant with criminal laws and regulations since most have not gotten to the age where they can fully comprehend these laws. To take care of these factors, it is necessary to have juveniles tried in juvenile courts.

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  1. Bolin, R. M., Applegate, B. K., & Ouellette, H. M. (2021). Americans’ opinions on juvenile justice: Preferred aims, beliefs about juveniles, and blended sentencing. Crime & Delinquency67(2), 262-286.
  2. Fountain, E. N., & Woolard, J. L. (2018). How defense attorneys consult with juvenile clients about plea bargains. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law24(2), 192.
  3. Guarino-Ghezzi, S., & Loughran, E. J. (2017). Balancing juvenile justice. Routledge.
  4. Imperiale, T. (2018). Keeping Juvenile Conduct in Juvenile Court: Why the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act Does Not and Should Not Contain a Ratification Exception. U. Chi. Legal F., 287.
  5. Scism, M. R. (2018). Children Are Different: The Need for Reform of Virginia’s Juvenile Transfer Laws. Rich. Pub. Int. L. Rev.22, 445.
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