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The Government Center: Knowing Your Rights and Responsibilities

Knowing Your Rights in the Court System

What happens when you get arrested for a crime? Hopefully you’ll never have to worry about it! But at The Youthhood, we want to make sure you’re prepared for anything! So like all the other topics, we’ll talk about some of your rights in the juvenile court system. But remember, these rules change from state to state, so be sure to check out what your state’s laws are!

One of the most important things to know is that as a young person (below the age of adulthood –- or majority –- in your state) you are entitled to go through the juvenile court system instead of the adult one. Most of the time, that means if you’re younger than 18, you won’t go to the adult system. Part of what that means is that in the juvenile system, even if you’re convicted (found guilty) of breaking the law, it’s not quite considered a crime. You become a “delinquent child,” and you become part of a system geared towards rehabilitating you. That means the court system does what it can to help you figure out how to change your behavior.

“Rehabilitation” can happen in a whole bunch of different ways. You and your parents can be fined, which means you have to pay a fee to the court. Or you can be put on probation, which means you are assigned to an officer of the court who works with you and your parents to make sure you stay out of trouble. Or, in serious situations, you can be sentenced to a juvenile detention center.

One of the best things to keep in mind if you do have to work with the juvenile court is that you still have some basic rights. You have a right to what’s called due process, which means there are rules the court has to follow. You have a right to an attorney. And you have a right to not confess to anything. There are more rights, and like always, it’s best to talk to a lawyer right away to know what those rights are.

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Last updated on December 5, 2018

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