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NCJ Number: 72182 Find in a Library
Title: Beating the Rap in the Juvenile Court
Journal: Juvenile and Family Court Journal  Volume:31  Issue:3  Dated:(August 1980)  Pages:19-22
Author(s): D Bogen
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 4
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: In Los Angeles County, public defenders encourage juvenile defendants to contest charges regardless of their guilt, due to U.S. Supreme Court rulings eliminating separate adjudication procedures for juveniles.
Abstract: In the past, the idea that the defense attorney is honorbound to strive for his client's acquittal regardless of guilt did not apply to juvenile court. Juvenile court procedings were not adversarial, and over 90 percent of minor defendants admitted guilt. Attorneys and juvenile court athorities alike believed that truth was in the best interests of society and the child offender. However, due to recent Supreme Court rulings, juvenile court has been changed from an informal tribunal to an adversary court with all the requirements and procedures of adult courts. Although implementation varies in different jurisdictions, Los Angeles County public defenders routinely contest any petition where dismissal seems possible, regardless of guilt. This has resulted in many unjust dismissals for juveniles and has inhibited their respect for law and the rights of others. Nevertheless, because the intent of the Supreme Court was to prevent the guilty from being shielded as well as to protect the innocent, public defenders are not obliged to urge admittedly guilty youths to contest charges, even if American Bar Association ethics permit it. In addition, requiring full court procedures for juveniles has added a heavy caseload burden to the courts. It is recommended that the American Bar Association guide lawyers in seeking justice rather than merely acquittals. No references are included.
Index Term(s): California; Defense services; Judicial decisions; Juvenile adjudication; Juvenile court procedures; Juvenile courts; Public defenders
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