Juvenile competency to stand trial
In recent years, juvenile competence to stand trial has become an issue of increasing forensic and legal significance. Changes in state laws that have allowed juveniles to be tried in normal courts might perhaps be the driving force behind this notable trend. For instance, the number of juveniles prosecuted in adults’ courts in 1994 was 73%, this is a figure greater than the 1986 number (Riffin, 2006).
As the number of juveniles tried in adult courts increases, child advocates and researchers have raised concerns about the competency of juveniles to participate meaningfully in the ordinary judicial process.
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Other research findings also have that juveniles below the age of 15 have crucial deficits in their knowledge of court processes. Many juveniles do not even understand the role of a judge or that of the jury. In addition, juveniles are less likely to consider the risks or the long term consequences or outcomes of their legal decisions.
The cases of Jacob Ind, Trevor Jones, Andrew Medina, among others have clearly showed that although juveniles may commit the same criminal acts as adults, they are neither cognitively nor emotionally mature enough to fathom the consequences of their actions (Pbs.org, 2007).
Grisso, T., Steinberg, L., Woolard, J., Cauffman, E., Scott, E., & Graham, S. et al. (2003). Juveniles’ competence to stand trial: a comparison of adolescents’ and adults’ capacities as trial defendants. Law And Human Behavior, 27(4), 333.