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Juvenile Discretion Essay

1392 words - 6 pages

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There are many areas of police work where discretion is exercised. Whether to lay a charge or deal with the offender personally is a major decision that police officers have to deal with on a day to day basis. The Canadian government has passed a Young Offenders Act legislation in which a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe the youthful offender has committed the offense, the officer has the right to process the juvenile informally; meaning an warning can be issued, or the officer can escort the offender back home to their parent or guardian, rather than docking charges. The Uniform Crime Report data has been used to survey the factors of police discretion with ...view middle of the document...

Police play an immense role in the juvenile justice system; this is because they are
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usually the first ones to make any type of contact with the young offender, in addition, police are in control of the juveniles experience during the justice process. Arresting, reporting, communication with higher intelligence operations affiliated with the department or all contributing factors in the notion of discretional powers.
Very little discretion not to charge you is exercised in incidents involving murder or attempted murder, and administrative offenses dealing with failure to appear in court, breaching probation and bail violations, and also includes drinking and driving.
Apprehended youth with five or more prior contacts with the police are more likely to be charged. The number of prior contacts with police increases with the apprehended youth’s age. The likely hood of a youth that has not had any prior contact with the police decreases by 5%, and the probability of having five or more contacts increases by 2% for twelve year olds and 15% with 16 year olds. Apprehended youth that have five or more prior contacts are more likely to have a firearm, and cause major harm to the victim, and to act alone without any peer pressure. Major injury to a victim is rare in a youth offense, but will increase the likely hood of a non discretional act by the officer. A youthful offender who commits a group crime such as theft is less likely to be charged. Group crimes by youth typically tend to be less serious than a lone act.
The age of the youth plays a huge role in police discretion. A seventeen year old is twice more likely to be charged for an offense than as a twelve year old is. Higher rank and older police officers with experience are harsher with underage drinkers. Studies show that there is a variation of responses of discretion depending on the type of offense that occurred. Over 50% of cases dealing with juvenile shoplifting, police are more likely to issue a formal caution, and less than twenty percent of those cases ended up in juvenile court after arresting the offender. In cases where young offenders are accused of
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burglary, 50% of 992 cases went to court. Few were issued a warning and even less resulted in no police action. In another study 50% of police who responded to the survey indicate they would administer a warning to underage drinkers. (Now understand that I said underage age drinkers not underage drinking and driving). What I found interesting is that out of 50 percent of officers who administer a warning to the underage drinkers, only 5% indicate that they would make arrest, especially if the juvenile is “mouthing off”. Usually the police officers discretion is influenced by the juvenile’s attitude but in this particular circumstance, and discretion is influenced by the offender’s nature of being intoxicated rather than their attitude. Police officers rank and education plays a role in the...

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