Juvenile Justice Process

Juvenile Justice Process

Goals of the Juvenile Justice System

The juvenile adjudication in South Carolina is undertaken by the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), which is a mandated by the state to treat and rehabilitate juveniles. The department provides rehabilitation for children who are under parole, probation, or incarceration. The goal of the juvenile justice process therefore, is to help juveniles change their behavior through a set of programs.  The services undertaken in doing so include prevention mechanisms, education and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders in an environment that is conducive.  In South Carolina, juveniles enter the judicial process after being taken there by the law enforcement agencies. In addition, a school administration or a Circuit Solicitor can also refer cases that are beyond their control to the DJJ. The whole process focuses on deterring the young offenders from future acts that are unacceptable to society (Department of Juvenile Justice, 2008).

The Juvenile system is critical in state because children should not be treated in the same manner as adults since they have a limited understanding of societal values. In addition, they might not wholly comprehend the reason for their actions because their mental capabilities are still growing. This makes the juvenile system critical since it takes account of these factors. In doing so, it is possible for the state, in conjunction with other law enforcers, to help the juveniles to change their behavior.

Transfer to an Adult Court

A juvenile is moved to an adult court through a process called a waiver. In this case, a juvenile court does away with the protection that is given to the minor (Department of Juvenile Justice, 2008). However, it is only serious offenses that can be considered for waiver. A juvenile who goes to an adult court enjoys more constitutional protections than there before. However, it is highly likely that the juvenile might undergo a severe sentence or be subjected to an adult correctional facility. A juvenile offender must be 17 years in South Carolina to be eligible for waiver to an adult court (Department of Juvenile Justice. (2008). However, in other states, the age can be as low as 13 years (Chen, 2010).

The procedure for a waiver can be instituted in three ways. The most common used method is initiated by the prosecutor. However, the juvenile court judge can also institute waiver proceedings against a minor (Siegel, 2009).  When a prosecutor or a judge institutes the transfer to the adult court, the minor can have access to representation from an attorney. The onus is on the prosecutor to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that a minor committed the alleged offence. If the minor is transferred to adult court, the case starts in a normal manner as those of adults (Young & Gainsborough, 2000). Some states, including South Carolina have automatic transfer laws to adult courts. The conditions for automatic transfer occur when the minor is of a certain age and the crime is a serious one such as murder or rape (Siegel, 2009). However, a juvenile, who is subject to an automatic transfer, can request for a reverse transfer hearing.  This process allows the judge to review the circumstance and order the offender to be tried in juvenile court (Siegel, 2009).

Ramifications of the Transfers

The punishment meted on a juvenile in adult facilities is not the same as one undertaken in juvenile setting. One potentially disastrous outcome of juvenile transfers is that offenders will definitely suffer longer and harsh punishments than if they stayed under the juvenile system (Mulvey & Schubert, 2012). This is acceptable to those who favor tough punishment for juvenile offenders. Another significant impact of transfers is that adolescent might be subjected to physical and sexual abuse in the adult facilities (Mulvey & Schubert, 2012). Such exposure can greatly impair the psychological development of the juvenile. The mental disorientation of the adolescent is particularly harmful to them since the environment does not promote a conducive environment for their overall progress (Mulvey & Schubert, 2012).

Requirements for probation

Probation sometimes involves visits to the community with the officers who monitors adherent to requirements stipulated by the family court judge. Probation officer can get information through interviews with parents of the child as well as from the school administration. The information gathered can help determine the overall behavior of the juvenile, both at home and in school. The requirements for probation can be set by a family court judge. For instance, a judge might require a juvenile to undergo a complete drug rehabilitation program as a condition for the probation. However, the most notable requirements for probation include the following;

  • The minor does not engage in further criminal activities
  • Curfews
  • Attending school
  • Engagement in community services


In summary, the goal of the juvenile system in South Carolina is to help minors change their behaviors by going through a rehabilitation program. There are several ways in which the juvenile court can achieve this aim. However, in some cases, the court can allow a transfer to adult courts through a defined process. The reasons for the transfers have been discussed. However, punishment undertaken at the adult facilities might achieve a rather different result, than what is expected of the juvenile system. On the other hand, juveniles who are placed under probation are supposed to adhere to a set of requirements. These are set out by the court judge and supervisors follow up the minors to see that the requirements are not flouted.


Chen, S. (2010). States Rethink Adult Time for Adult Crime.  Retrieved from http://articles.cnn.com/2010-01-15/justice/connecticut.juvenile.ages_1_adult-court-adult-system-transfer-juveniles?_s=PM:CRIME

Department of Juvenile Justice. (2008).  South Carolina Statutes Relevant to Juvenile Justice. Retrieved from http://www.state.sc.us/djj/sc-statutes.php#transfer_of_jurisdiction_/_waiver

Mulvey, P. E.  & Schubert, A. C. (2012). Transfer of Juveniles to Adult Court: Effects of a Broad Policy in one Court. Retrieved from http://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/232932.pdf

Siegel, J. L. (2009). Introduction to Criminal Justice. New York: Cengage Learning.

Young, C. M. & Gainsborough, J. (2000).  Prosecuting Juveniles in Adult Court: an assessment of trends and consequences.  Retrieved from http://www.prisonpolicy.org/scans/sp/juvenile.pdf



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