Juvenile Delinquency and Court System

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Introduction

Juvenile delinquency is such an act in which a person less than the age of 18 years participates in unlawful and illegal behavior or activities. Juvenile crimes mostly vary from status offenses to property crimes.

Meaning

Juvenile delinquency means an immature child under the age of 18 commits a crime.

Definition

According to Oxford Dictionary

“The offences committed by the people under the age of legal responsibility.”

According to Wikipedia

“Juvenile delinquency is the act of participating in unlawful behavior as a minor or individual younger than the statutory age of majority.”

Read More: Why do People commit crimes?

The belief of famous nations

It is the belief of most the famous nations that,

“SAVE THE YOUTH OF TODAY FROM BECOMING CRIMINALS OF TOMORROW.”

Juvenile Justice System in Pakistan

Most of the legal systems of the world offer specific procedures to deal with juveniles. One example is the establishment of Juvenile Detection Centers. When a juvenile commits a crime, the procedure that is followed to treat him differs from that is followed to treat an adult offender. 

Relevant Provisions

Section 4 of the Juvenile Justice System Act, 2018 deals with Juvenile Delinquency.

Prison Act, 1894

In Pakistan, the Prison Act, of 1894 gives authority to the Local Government to make “Prison Rules” to deal with the matters of daily routine, health, diet, prison labor, and physical well-being of the prisoners.

Juvenile offenders are treated the same way as their corresponding adults under the specific rule of the Prison Act.

Juvenile Court

A court that is established under Section 4 of the Juvenile Justice System Act, 2018, and has special jurisdiction over the delinquent persons who are mostly under the age of 18 is called Juvenile Court.

How does Juvenile Court deal with the juveniles?

Juvenile courts adopt a different method other than that of the young and mature offenders, to deal with the juveniles.

The reason is that children of a young age are not mature to understand the nature and severity of their acts. Thus, it is unjust to deal with them in the same manner as the mature offenders.

Three Categories of People

The young people are divided by Hebrews into three categories;

  1. Infant
  2. Pre-pubescent
  3. Adolescent

Types of Juveniles

There exist two kinds of juveniles

1. Neglected Juveniles

As the name indicates, these juveniles are not considered harmful. For their rehabilitation, they are sent to some Welfare Institutions for example Edhi centers.

2. Delinquent Juveniles

The delinquent juveniles are advised in this regard. They may be kept in custody or may be released on probation.

The procedure of the juvenile court

The procedure of Juvenile Courts to treat the juveniles is comprised of three steps.

  1. Pre-Trial
  2. Trial
  3. Sentence

1. Pre-Trial

The pre-trial process consists of the following.

  • The state fixes a minimum age for criminal liability.
  • The state enacts special laws and procedures for the trial and treatment of juvenile offenders. 
  • The accused child shall be considered innocent until he is proven responsible for the crime.
  • The state ensures the protection against retrospective punishment.
  • The child must be informed, by means of his parents, about the charges against him.
  • The child must be treated with dignity and honor and his privacy must be protected

2. Trial

The Trial process is comprised of the following steps.

  • A group of independent and impartial judges, who are competent in their field, must conduct the trial.
  • The juvenile must enjoy the help of an interpreter in the case if he is unable to understand the language of the court.
  • The juvenile must not be enforced to confess the guilt.
  • The juvenile must be provided assistance to present himself for his defense.
  • The child must enjoy the opportunity of a fair hearing.
  • The court, while deciding about the case, must have a view on the age and situation of the child.

3. Sentence

The process of Sentence consists of the following steps.

  • A juvenile, under the age of 18 years, should not be punished with the death penalty or life imprisonment.
  • The juvenile must not be subjected to some cruel or inhumane treatment
  • The juvenile offenders must be kept separate from the adult offenders during the period of detention
  • During the stay of the juvenile in a rehabilitation institution, the child must be in regular contact with his family
  • The state shall establish rehabilitation centers for proper rehabilitation and training of the juvenile delinquents
  • The court may release the juveniles on probation for their rehabilitation and they may stay in their home. This works as an alternative to the rehabilitation centers.

Conclusion

In Pakistan, the juvenile court system deals with the crimes committed by children. In Pakistan, the minimum age for criminal responsibility is Seven Years.

According to Section 83 of PPC, it is clear 

“Nothing is an offense which is done by a child who is between the age of 7 and 12 years and he lacks sufficiant maturity to judge the nature and consequences of his/her conduct on that particular occasion.”

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