Adjudicative Competence in the Modern Juvenile Court
43 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2003 Last revised: 29 May 2014
Date Written: December 1, 2002
In recent years, as juvenile justice systems across the country have become more punitive and courts have held that juveniles are entitled to adult-like levels of due process protection, the adjudicative competence of juveniles has increasingly come into question. To clarify this trend, we reviewed the current state of the law in the fifty states and the District of Columbia, focusing on recent court opinions and legislation as of January of 2000. We then summarize relevant empirical research on juveniles' competency-related capacities in delinquency proceedings. As a case study, we examine the development and implementation of juvenile competence legislation in Virginia, analyzing the legal, clinical, and practical considerations that arise from the recognition of a juvenile competence requirement. We conclude that the passage of a juvenile competence statute does not necessarily lead to an overwhelming number of juveniles being found incompetent. With quality training of evaluators and attorneys, further research on clinical components of adjudicative competency in juveniles, and legislative support and funding, a juvenile competence requirement can help ensure the fair and effective functioning of the modern juvenile court.
Keywords: Adjudicative Competence, Competence to Stand Trial, Juvenile Court, Forensic Issues, Juvenile Offenders, Delinquency
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation