The Juvenile Justice System is quite different than the regular criminal court system in that the focus is on rehabilitating rather than punishing the criminal offender. With the majority of cases, an individual under the age of 18 facing pending criminal charges will be in the juvenile justice system. In a minority of very serious crimes, the State Attorney will charge against the individual in adult criminal court, even though he or she may be under 18 years of age.
While juvenile court has a focus on rehabilitation, the consequences of a juvenile conviction can be long lasting and have dire effects on the juvenile and his family. A conviction for a juvenile offense may result in two different sentences: probation or commitment to the Department of Juvenile Justice.
If the sentence is probation, the judge may impose community service, drug or anger management counseling, or other conditions as part of probation. A sentence to DJJ can take several possibilities from low risk programs to juvenile prison.
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