LegalWays: Juvenile Court
By Jennifer Bloom and Sally Revak, Learning Law and Democracy Foundation
From Unit 1 of LegalWays, a curriculum designed to teach a variety of legal topics of interest to young people. This lesson is the second of four lessons on the legal system and the courts and provides more detail on the Juvenile Court system. A comparison with the adult system is provided. The jurisdiction of the court, ages, and rights of juveniles are included. The juvenile court process, in very general terms, will introduce students to terms and procedures that they will study further in the Juvenile Protection and Juvenile Delinquency units of the LegalWays curriculum. The activities include an introductory case study on the landmark In re Gault decision, which will set the stage for the lesson, and a writing activity describing a juvenile situation.
Students will understand that there are different courts and that the courts handle different kinds of cases. (Lesson 1: Sources of Law and the Courts)
Students will know the basic functions and procedures of two courts that they might be involved in: juvenile court and conciliation court (Lesson 2: Juvenile Court and Lesson 4: Conciliation Court)
Students will know the importance of their right to an attorney and when the right is available to them. (Lesson 3: Your Right to an Attorney)
Time to Complete
One class period (Lesson 1-2 class periods)
See Teaching Guide for tips on using this lesson.
Information for Teacher: Answer to Case Study
In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967)
Issue: Were the proceedings used to commit Gault constitutional?
The Court’s Decision
No. The Court held that the process used for juveniles had failed to comply with the due process requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment The Court said that juveniles have the following rights:
1. Right to notice of charges far enough in advance of the hearing to allow the juvenile to prepare.
2. Right to counsel. Just like adults, juveniles must be told of the right to a lawyer and that if they don’t have money to pay for one, a lawyer will be appointed and paid for by the court.
3. Right to confront witnesses. Gault had the right to question Mrs. Cook.
4. Privilege against self-incrimination. Juveniles must be told they have the right to remain silent.