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Do Juveniles Have the Right to Trial by Jury?

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If your child has been recently accused of a crime, you likely have a thousand questions running through your mind about what he or she might be facing. Typically, adult crimes and criminal proceedings follow a standard trajectory, but does juvenile court follow the same rules?

For example, if an adult commits a crime, he or she has the choice of having a trial decided by a judge or determined by a jury of his or her peers. This right is granted by the U.S Constitution. However, in the 1971 case McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, the U.S. Supreme Court held there is no jury-trial right in juvenile delinquency proceedings.

When making the decision, some justices expressed concerns about what a jury trial would mean in a juvenile proceeding. For example, a jury of peers would undermine child confidentiality, fail to significantly improve the ability of courts to determine case facts, and make proceedings “fully adversary.”

Despite later apprehension about this lack of rights for minors, state governments aren’t obligated to provide trial by jury in the juvenile justice system. Instead, judges or judge-equivalents usually decide the results of these cases.

However, over the years there have been cases where states offer jury trials for minors. In several states, juveniles are permitted juries only in limited circumstances; for example, when the potential sentence is particularly severe because of various factors.

Ohio is one of the states that does allow juveniles trial by jury in serious youthful offender cases only. For example, if a child is facing aggravated murder charges, he or she would be eligible for a trial by jury, as a conviction could result in years in prison.

If your child has been accused of a crime, don’t hesitate to call one of our skilled Cincinnati juvenile crime attorneys. Patituce & Associates has more than 70 years of criminal defense experience to offer you and your family. Depending on the severity of the crime, a conviction could lead to years in prison for your child, potentially damaging his or her chances of finding a good job later in life. Let us look at the case and offer experienced legal advice about your best course of action.

Contact us at (440) 471-7784 or fill out our online form to schedule your free case review today.