View Full Version : Juveniles and jail time

03-23-2010, 12:37 PM
Hey all, I'm curious how much time a juvenile can get for gang violence in the U.S..

If it's over two years, do you have any idea of a crime a minor can commit that usually has a sentence length of two years or under?

03-23-2010, 02:36 PM
What kind of gang violence? Murder? Witness intimidation?

Most juvenile criminal cases are handled by the state courts - very few juveniles end up in Federal custody, so the length of the sentence depends on the state where the crime was committed. (Google the phrase "Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act" for more information about juveniles charged as adults in Federal court.)

In California, a juvenile offender can be sentenced to state custody until his/her twenty-fifth birthday for a serious crime, but most of the time, they're out by age twenty-one. Juveniles can be charged as adults in California from the age of 14, but this option is reserved only for the most serious crimes, and most of the time, the little darlings are charged as juveniles.

You're looking for a crime for which the juvenile would be sentenced to two years or less. Again, it depends on the jurisdiction, but drug crimes, car theft, repeated burglaries, all come to mind.

03-23-2010, 04:53 PM
Even something as serious as robbery could end up with a sentence of less than two years. A fairly likely scenario would be a juvenile getting probation for an offense and then failing to abide by probation conditions, having probation revoked and getting a prison sentence imposed.

03-23-2010, 05:17 PM
I was thinking any sort of gang violence that you listed, Julie. I think car theft could work in the case of my novel.

Thanks so much for the comments Julie and Mark!

03-23-2010, 06:29 PM
Juveniles are sentenced (and technically they are not even sentenced) in a different style that adults. Adults are giving a certain length of time. Juveniles are placed in facilities until such time as they reach the maximum age or they are reformed.

Result is a juvenile can end up in a facility for long periods for small crimes and short periods for bad crimes. And the variation between states is immense. California is tough on kids, Arkansas is not (results seem to be showing that Arkansas has better results). You need to talk to someone practicing juvenile justice in the state and maybe city your book is based in.

Remember that in HOLES, a kid goes to a juvenile facility for stealing shoes. Shame that Pennsylvania was actually doing that.

I will tell you that my experience with juveniles is judges vary a lot. I could predict what an adult would get regardless of the judge much better than with juveniles.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

03-23-2010, 06:38 PM
I never new that, Jim! Thanks for the info!

This is going to be based in Chicago. I'll try to find some more info about it.

Thanks so much again!

03-23-2010, 09:03 PM
In Ohio, the question first is what kind of violence, i.e., what is the charge?

If it is a felony charge, the child could be (and note the could be there) committed to the Department of Youth Services until the age of 21. This could mean a detention facility, treatment facility, or parole with DYS.

It is really rare for something like this to happen if the case stays in juvenile court.

If it is gang related, then I think it's very likely, depending on the age of the child, their juvenile record, and a few other factors, that they might be bound over to common pleas court and tried as adults, where they would face adult time.