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Juvenile Justice Glossary


5th Amendment - Amendment that guarantees citizens the right to trial by jury, and the right to withhold self-incriminating statements.

14th Amendment - Amendment that guarantees citizens equal treatment under the law by due process trial rights.

Adjudicate - To remove a case through judicial decision. Many juvenile justice cases are heard without the assistance of a jury. In such cases the judge will hear the case and prescribe the best course of action, thus "removing" it from the court.

Aftercare - The probationary period following a youth's release from a juvenile facility. During this time the youth's behavior will be followed by the juvenile court, and he or she may be required to meet specific probationary obligations.

Concurrent jurisdiction - If a crime falls under the jurisdiction of both the juvenile court and the criminal court, the prosecutor has the liberty to decide where to file the case.

Confidentiality protection - A youth's records may be made available to schools, youth agencies, law enforcement officials, prosecutors, victims, and the public only under certain, specified circumstances. Juvenile confidentiality is guarded by each state's provisions.

Consent decree - A youth who has admitted to committing delinquent acts may have his case dismissed by fulfilling obligations to the court and the injured party. These obligations are set out in a consent decree and often include restitution, mandatory curfew, increased school attendance, and rehabilitation.

Criminal court - U.S. criminal courts have traditionally dealt with adults accused of committing criminal acts. Increasingly, however, juveniles are being tried in criminal court.

Deinstitutionalization - The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 called for a "deinstitutionalization" of juvenile status offenders, requiring them to be removed from secure detention facilities. Throughout the history of the juvenile justice system, numerous movements have been formed to ensure that youths are not unnecessarily kept in secure detention and correctional facilities.

Delinquency petition - A petition filed by a prosecutor asking for a youth to be declared "delinquent" by the juvenile court. An adjudicatory hearing will determine if the youth is culpable.

Disposition hearing - Scheduled if a youth has been found delinquent by the juvenile court. The probation officer, prosecutor, and juvenile are permitted to propose disposition strategies. Recommendations frequently include drug rehabilitation, limited (weekend) confinement, restitution, and residential placement.

Informal disposition - Held when a youth admits guilt to a crime in an informal juvenile hearing. During the disposition, the requirements of the court are laid out in a consent decree.

Judicial waiver - A judge may waive the juvenile court's authority over certain cases, sending them to be heard in criminal court.

Juvenile delinquency - A delinquency act is an act that would be considered criminal, if not for the fact that it was committed by a juvenile. A juvenile is defined in the U.S. Code as a person under the age of 18.

Kangaroo court - (Slang) term referring to a court that falls short of legal standards. Critics questioning the legitimacy of juvenile courts have referred to them as kangaroo courts.

LEAA - Law Enforcement Assistance Administration

Mandatory waiver - Under mandatory waiver laws, a juvenile court receives and reviews a case but, under certain circumstances, is required to transfer it to criminal court.

NIJ - National Institute of Justice

NIJJDP - National Institute for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

OJJDP - Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Parens patriae - Translates roughly to "state as parent." This is the idea that the state has a responsibility to play a parental role to youths who have been neglected by their parents.

PPO - Police Probation Officer

Prosecutorial transfer - In cases under the concurrent jurisdiction of the juvenile and criminal courts, the prosecutor may use his or her discretion to decide where to try the case. Some restrictions have been established to guide prosecutorial transfers.

Reformatory - Prior to the formal establishment of the Juvenile Justice System, delinquent youths were placed in privately run reformatories. Reformatories are generally geared toward rehabilitating and educating youth.

Reverse Waiver - A youth being tried in the adult system may request to be transferred into the juvenile justice system.

Status offender - A juvenile who has committed an act that is only considered a law violation because of his or her status as a juvenile. Some examples of status offenses are underage alcohol consumption, truancy from school, general "ungovernability," violation of curfew, and running away from home.

Statutory exclusion - State juvenile courts do not have jurisdiction over certain cases. If a youth has been accused of committing a crime outside of the juvenile court's jurisdiction, he or she will deal directly with the criminal court. No transfer of the case through the Juvenile Justice System will be necessary.

Waiver petition - A prosecutor or intake officer may petition the court to allow a case normally under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court to be heard in criminal court.

Youthful offender - "Youthful offender" status may be given to a juvenile being tried in the criminal justice system. The status usually guarantees that the proceedings will not be open to the public and that after turning 21 the youth's criminal record will be cleared, provided court requirements have been met.

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