According to the Supreme Court, juvenile courts must afford basic constitutional protections. Juveniles have the right to counsel, the right to cross-examine witnesses, the right to silence and the right to advance notice of charges. The Supreme Court is expanding the Fourth and Fifth Amendments for juveniles in California and other states.
Juvenile protection under the Fourth Amendment
There are many juvenile protections under the Fourth Amendment, and the Supreme Court is expanding the search and seizure protections. When police arrest a person for juvenile crimes without a warrant, the defendant needs a probable cause hearing. The exclusionary rule applies to federal delinquency adjudications as well.
Juvenile protection under the Fifth Amendment
A defendant for juvenile crimes has protections under the Fifth Amendment. The Fifth Amendment protects juvenile defendants from self-incrimination during the proceedings. The proceedings for juvenile crimes have a non-criminal nature, but defendants still have protections. The Fifth Amendment uses substance and not form to determine the applicability of non-criminal proceedings. The juvenile defendant’s liberty is at stake, which applies to protection against self-incrimination.
Juveniles don’t have the same rights as adults
Juvenile defendants have some protections during proceedings but not as many as adults. Underage defendants don’t have the right to a trial by jury because an alleged juvenile delinquent isn’t an alleged criminal. Juvenile crime proceedings are intimate, informal protective proceedings, and introducing a jury would create a more adversarial process.
The Constitution doesn’t mandate that the juvenile process use a jury trial because it’s a more delicate process. Any defendants may be handed down punishments, but the juvenile process tends to lean more on rehabilitation and alternate sentencing when compared with the adult court system.