Presently, there is a Juvenile Court in each State of the United States. It is usually a specialised unit in the State judicial service which is established in the local community. The legislature determines its proceedings while the higher courts supervise its functions. The various State agencies such as State Welfare Departments influence the fiscal policies in relation to the juvenile courts. These Courts are usually financed by local governments. The Judge is elected and the police, school and other agencies make frequent referrals to it.
The working of a Juvenile Court in USA is relatively simple and more or less informal. As first, the police takes custody of the juvenile offender. The police officer has the discretion either to keep the child in custody or to immediately release him, admonish him/her or to do both, and allow parents to take the custody of the child.
Next, the police contacts the juvenile court for notification of parents and the person notified by the Court assumes responsibility of custody of the delinquent. The police also interrogates the offender and takes his finger prints or photographs. These records provide important clues for tracing the juvenile.
The Court while trying the juvenile, gives a hearing to probation officer who apprises it about the antecedents of the delinquent. The juvenile having been placed under probation officer’s protective care, it is for the latter to find a suitable home, school or employment for the child. In case the child violates any of the conditions; of probation, he is sent to a ‘Certified School’ or to Children Home by an order of the Court. The age limit for juvenile trial is seventeen years.
However, at times the waiver of juvenile leads to his trial by an Adult’s Court. Some youngsters who according to statutory age limit are close to adulthood, may have been involved in repeated offences and prove a danger to society. Such offenders are sent for trial in an ordinary court.