What to expect as an adult in the criminal justice system

Young adults who were involved in the criminal justice system as minors will experience a different system as adults. While they retain the right to an attorney and privilege against self-incrimination (among others), the juvenile court system focuses more on rehabilitation and usually offers reduced sentencing options. Check out below for more information about what to expect as an adult in the Stark County criminal justice system.

What’s different?

Compared to the juvenile justice system, the following are some of the changes you can expect when you are tried in an adult court:

  • When young people break the law, it is called a delinquent act. The term “crime” is reserved for illegal acts carried out by adults.
  • Adult court proceedings often move more slowly and are generally more formal than court cases processed through the juvenile justice system.
  • As an adult charged with a crime, you have the right to a public trial by jury. Juveniles go through an adjudication hearing or a private hearing with a judge.
  • Adult courts tend to be more strict than juvenile courts and there are typically fewer sentencing options for adult offenders.
  • In the juvenile justice system, sentencing is more geared towards rehabilitation, whereas adult courts focus more on delivering punishments that fit the crime.
  • Typically, the records for a juvenile case are sealed and can be expunged once the young person enters adulthood.


What’s the same?

There are some differences between the juvenile and adult court systems, but there are also many similarities. As is the case for juvenile offenders, adults maintain the same rights necessary for fair and just prosecution, including:

  • Legal representation regardless of ability to pay.
  • Notice of all charges filed against you.
  • The ability to cross-examine witnesses.
  • The choice to exercise your rights against self-incrimination.
  • The need to demonstrate guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.



Juveniles tried as adults

There are some situations where the circumstances surrounding a crime will cause the courts to try a juvenile offender the same as they would an adult. Young people who are tried as adults and convicted will have a permanent record that will follow them throughout adulthood. The following factors may necessitate juveniles tried as adults in the Stark County court system:

  • Higher level of maturity or awareness.
  • Less willingness to go through treatment or rehabilitation.
  • Probation violations or repeat offenses.
  • Serious crimes such as murder or other crimes against people.