A juvenile is any person who has not attained an age of 18 years old and therefore he or she is not eligible to stand trial in a court of law. For purpose of proceeding and disposition of a case for alleged juvenile delinquency acts, someone who has not attained an age of twenty one years is also considered as a juvenile. Juvenile delinquency is a federal criminal act committed by someone before he attains the age of 18 years. A person who has celebrated his 18th birthday may not be tried as a juvenile but must be proceeded against as being an adult. In some cases, an individual who has celebrated his 21st birthday may be proceeded against as an adult for committing acts which may be considered juvenile delinquency (Cornell University Law School, 2015).

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However, a defendant who commits acts of juvenile delinquency but is not indicated until he celebrates his 21st birthday isn’t protected by the juvenile act and he will be considered as an adult during his prosecution. Also, a defendant may object to be prosecuted as an adult in case the prosecutor delays charges until the defender attains an age of 21 years so that the prosecution can have advantage in the case. Furthermore, a juvenile defender may be prosecuted as an adult in case the government passes a motion to transfer certain transferrable offenses to the defendant such as violent crimes if the juvenile is at least 15 years old. A juvenile who had previously committed certain crimes may also be judged as an adult if the government implements compulsory transfer of crimes.

Should juveniles be prosecuted in state or federal courts?
Juveniles should be tried in state courts because most state courts have facilities such as guidance and counseling which can handle their cases effectively unlike the state courts. Moreover, most state courts are local courts located within cities, municipalities and counties and deals with local issues and thus prosecuting children closer home can be ideal for the juveniles to get their parents support. Federal courts majorly deal with cases in which the US is a party, cases involving the violation of the US constitution, cases between citizens of different states where the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 and matters of bankruptcy and copyright and therefore it cannot handle juvenile cases. It’s the jurisdiction of state courts to handle individual citizen cases which juvenile matters is part of (United States Attorneys, 2016). In conclusion, state courts are best suited to handle juvenile prosecutions not only by law but also for better case handling due to its location.

  • Cornell University Law School, (2015). Delinquency Proceedings in District Courts, Transfer for Criminal Prosecution. Legal Information Institute. Available at https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/5032
  • United States Attorneys, (2016). Federal Juvenile Delinquency Code. Office of the United States Attorneys Publication. Available at http://www.justice.gov/usam/criminal-resource-manual-117-federal-juvenile-delinquency-code