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How does the juvenile justice system differ from the adult justice system?

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Quick Answer

Differences between the juvenile and adult justice systems vary from state to state, but in general, the aim of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate while that of the adult justice system is to punish, claims Legal Match. Juvenile courts, which prosecute delinquent acts, have a less formal setting than adult courts, which prosecute crimes.

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The overall aim of juvenile courts is to reform and rehabilitate juvenile offenders so that they can rejoin society as normal and functioning members. Therefore, the juvenile justice system typically issues alternative sentences to juvenile offenders so that they stay out of jail. The sentences, which should be designed to serve the best interests of the offenders, include parole, probation and diversionary programs. On the other hand, the goal of the adult justice system is to punish, primarily through prison sentences, states Legal Match.

Juvenile courts usually have a more informal setting than adult courts. In juvenile cases, for example, rules regarding the admission of evidence may be more flexible than the rules laid out in adult cases. Unlike the adult system, the juvenile justice system subjects offenders to adjudication hearing and denies juveniles the right to public trials by jury. In both systems, offenders have a right to an attorney and the right to cross-examine witnesses, notes Legal Match.

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