As I have previously mentioned in my blog, juveniles don’t receive the same rights adults do in our justice system. While this is evident in many parts of the juvenile justice system, I would like to focus this post on a jury trial. As a result of movies like Legally Blond and 12 Angry Men, jury trials is how most people picture our court systems today. Jury trials are beneficial to the accused in many ways. Most people believe that they are more likely to get a fairer trial if they have a jury in the courtroom. The idea behind this kind of trial is to put the accused in front of a jury of their peers instead of a single judge. Since it’s a jury of your peers they’re more likely to relate to your situations better than a judge. This can be more reassuring to someone facing trail.
In our system however, juveniles are given the option to have a jury trial. This is a very large disadvantage in my opinion. Since their only option is bench trails, the judge holds all of an individual’s fate in their hands. This can be especially scary because sometimes judges don’t take all of the evidence into account and instead go with their gut. Another disadvantage of bench trials is that getting an appeal is very unlikely. In bench trails it’s harder for appellate defendants to argue there was any issues with the original trial.
Juveniles don’t deserve to have so many of their rights taken away. By enforcing the ability to have a jury trial for minors we can help them combat how negatively the courts treat them. I undoubtedly believe that if an adult has certain rights in the justice system than juveniles should too.
Please comment below your thoughts on jury and bench trails!