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Juvenile Trial By Jury?

juvenile trial by jury

As we continue with our series on the differences between juvenile court and adult court, we come to perhaps the biggest difference: no trial by jury. Now, you might wonder, ‘You just finished a series on the Sixth Amendment, and doesn’t that talk about our right to a trial by jury?’ Indeed, it does! So why aren’t juries involved in juvenile cases? How does this play out during the actual trial? We’ll address all these questions and more as we tackle the topic of juvenile trial by jury.

Juvenile Trial By Jury: The Defendant’s Rights

First, let’s address the question as to why juveniles usually do not have public trials with juries. Fortunately or unfortunately, this is not just true for New Jersey, but at the national level. In the 1971 case McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the right to a jury trial does not apply to juveniles. They gave these reasons:

  • Mandatory jury trials would destroy “the idealistic prospect of an intimate, informal protective proceeding.”
  • Mandatory jury trials would impinge upon the ability of courts to determine case facts.
  • In juvenile cases, jury trials can undermine confidentiality.

In recent years, people have questioned this reasoning. Nevertheless, states do not have to conduct jury trials for juvenile cases. Granted, this does not mean that jury trials are forbidden in juvenile cases, only that they’re not required.

Juvenile Trial By Jury: The Trial

Second, how does this change the trial itself? If juries don’t render a verdict or disposition, who does? As you might imagine, the judge does. Therefore, the prosecutor has to convince the judge that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This has pros and cons.

  • The legal process goes much quicker.
  • The proceedings tend to be simpler and less formal.
  • But, multiple jurors usually benefits the defendant.

The best defense lawyer in such a case would know the judge well, understand what that judge finds particularly persuasive, and use that to defend their client.

Need a Lawyer for a Juvenile Case? Contact Mark Catanzaro!

Finally, where can you find such a defense attorney? Mark Catanzaro! With decades of experience, he knows the judges, the tactics, and has the skills to defend juvenile cases effectively. Contact him today!


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