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Juvenile Crimes

Juvenile Crimes in Cleveland, Ohio

What are juvenile crimes?

Generally speaking, juvenile crimes are crimes committed by individuals under the age of eighteen. Adolescents have received special and separate treatment with respect to criminal law statutes for centuries. However, as a social phenomenon the juvenile justice system is a relatively modern institution that has come to prominence only within the last 100 years or so.

States differ slightly as to what they deem a juvenile or an adult under their individual statues. In some states, a juvenile is considered to be anyone under the age of seventeen. In others, the age is sixteen or below. And in still others, the legal age of adulthood is 18 or over. In Ohio courts, a juvenile is considered a person under the age of 18.

How Ohio differs on juvenile crime

Most states have changed their laws in the past decade to be more punitive toward adolescent felony offenders, either by augmenting the charges for which a juvenile can be tried as an adult, or by lowering the statutory age at which the offender is considered an adult. Unfortunately, there is little empirical information on the impact of trying adolescents as adults rather than juveniles on subsequent legal and social outcomes. Nor has there been much systematic academic research to determine an optimal age at which to assign adolescent offenders to adult or juvenile court jurisdiction to reduce the likelihood of recidivism or repeat offense.

Why are juveniles treated differently than adults?

According to A Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual, juveniles are treated differently under the law for a variety of historically based assumptions modern society has of young adults:

Laws treat juveniles differently from adults for a few reasons. First, people think that because juveniles are not as mature as adults, juveniles are unable to understand their wrongful actions to the extent that adults can. Second, people think juveniles are less dangerous to the community than adults. Third, people think it is easier to teach juveniles to obey laws in the future. Fourth, the government thinks that because juveniles can be educated as to why the crimes they have committed are wrong, juvenile offenders can eventually become contributing members of society. Therefore, the goal of the juvenile justice system is not only to hold you accountable for your actions, but also to provide you with treatment and rehabilitative services.

Penalties for juvenile crimes can range from probation to commitment to the Department of Youth Services until age 18.

Is there a bias against juveniles in the criminal justice system?

Criminal deviance theorists have suggested that criminal involvement in the United States rises sharply with the onset of adolescence, peaking in the late teenage years before dropping steadily thereafter. According to criminologists at Columbia University and Chicago University, an eighteen-year-old is five times more likely to be arrested for a property crime than a thirty-five-year old; for violent crime the corresponding ratio is 2 to 1. In 1997, those aged 15-19 comprised roughly 7 percent of the overall population, but accounted for over 20 percent of arrests for violent offenses and roughly one-third of all property crime arrests.

Controversies in juvenile crimes

As in all areas of legal justice, gender, class and racial bias often play a role. Key studies have indicated than juvenile males are much more likely to be arrested, tried and convicted of a crime than juvenile females. The fact that adolescent boys tend to be more rambunctious and daring than girls can create a perception among law enforcement agents that causes them to automatically judge a young male as a criminal suspect before a young female.

Additionally, as with adult crime, juvenile crimes are often also a function of socio-economic status. Criminal studies indicate that the juveniles growing up in economically depressed or disadvantaged neighborhoods tend to have a greater predisposition toward criminal activity. As in the case of gender bias, this socio-economic fact also contributes to a class bias, often creating the misperception among police that the poorer kids are the ones causing most of the trouble.

Protecting the legal rights of juveniles

The Law Office of Gregory S. Robey are committed to protecting the rights of juveniles who have been arrested or charged with a crime. Regardless of the crime, we believe that juveniles have inviolable legal and civil rights that must be defended. Whether you have been charged with a juvenile crime, are a suspect, or have already been convicted and wish to appeal, contact our Ohio criminal attorneys today by calling 877-219-2514 or by filling out our online form. All information about your case is kept strictly confidential.

Juvenile crimes: additional resources

  • The Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention
  • The National Longitudinal Survey, Bureau of Labor Statistics, which provides juvenile crime statistics
  • Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, which provides information on the prosecution and detention of adolescent felony offenders


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