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Free Example of Juvenile Court System Essay

Since its inception in the late 1800s the juvenile court has undergone tremendous changes especially regarding to the rights of a juvenile offender. The Juvenile courts were established in the rate 1800s with a sole objective of reforming children and young adults who had gone astray instead of subjecting them to the adult court system where they would definitely be punished for their wrong doings. Today the juvenile offender enjoys a wide range of rights almost as equal to those that an adult offender is granted. Juveniles have a right to an attorney, right to question witnesses and right to timely notification of charges. This paper critically analyses several landmark cases that influenced the Juveniles legal rights

Breed v. Jones (1975)

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In the case of breed v Jones the U.S Supreme Court held that the subjection to prosecution of a juvenile as an adult in criminal court after an adjudicatory proceeding in a juvenile court violated the double jeopardy clause as outlined in the fifth amendment. The respondent had been forced to marshal his resources against the state twice and endure stigma on both occasions. 

Fare v. Michael (1979)

In this case the respondent had requested the police to allow him to speak to his probation officer but the request was turned down. The respondent then agreed to talk without seeing an attorney. Upon being charged in juvenile court with murder the respondent moved to suppress the incriminating statements on the ground that being denial of a chance to see his probation officer was a violation equal to denial of the right to an attorney. The juvenile court denied the motion but the California Supreme Court reversed it holding that denial to see a probation officer amounted to violation of the respondents Fifth Amendment rights.

Woods v. Clusen (1986)

In this particular case, Woods was intimidated by the police and gave oral evidence of murder under unfavorable conditions. Initially he had kept silent and clearly stated that he was aware of the Miranda rights.  Woods was found guilty of second degree murder and manslaughter. Later on Woods petitioned for habeas corpus which he was granted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Roper v. Simmons (2005)

Christopher Simmons committed murder in 1993 and with the presence of overwhelming evidence he was sentenced to death. However he appealed to the sentence but subsequent courts upheld the death sentence. However in 2002 the Supreme Court ruling in Atkins V Virginia overturned the death penalty on the mentally incapacitated. Simmons immediately filed a petition for state post conviction relief which went through and was sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2005 upon a petition by the state of Missouri the US Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and ruled that minors aged below 18 years are not eligible for the death penalty.


The purpose for establishing the juvenile court was to help the juvenile offender find a reform. It is unfair to coerce juveniles as demonstrates in the case of Woods v. Clusen because it denies the juvenile his rights and subjects him/her to mistreatment. However, conviction of juveniles today has been limited to following legal procedures which if they are violated often lets the juveniles off the hook on the grounds of violation of his/her rights as observed in the case of Fare v. Michael (1979).

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