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Law Talk Juveniles' Understanding of Legal Language

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 13 Issue: 4 Dated: (1985) Pages: 339-353
T F Smith
Date Published
10 pages
This article reports and discusses the findings of a study conducted at the pretrial stage in the Winnipeg juvenile court (Province of Manitoba, Canada) to determine: (1) what legal words or phrases commonly used in courtroom hearings juveniles understand; (2) whether there is a relationship between juveniles' understanding and sense of justice (fairness); (3) whether judges, lawyers, and probation officers believe that legal language affects a juvenile's understanding of the courtroom hearing; (4) what legal terms or phrases these key actors see as most important for the juvenile to understand; and (5) whether there is a relationship between what juveniles understand and what key actors see as the most important legal terms or phrases that a juvenile needs to understand.
Juveniles' understanding is moderate and is confined to procedural terms. A strong relationship does not exist between what juveniles understand and the terms that key actors view as needing to be understood. (Author abstract)