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Role of the Prosecutor (From Juvenile Justice Standards Symposium, P 550-591, 1979 - See NCJ-76912)

NCJ Number
E Bridges
Date Published
40 pages
A symposium presentation and subsequent discussion examine the role of the prosecutor in juvenile proceedings and assess three proposed sets of standards on the subject.
The proposed standards are those of the Joint Commission of the Institute for Judicial Administration/American Bar Association (IJA/ABA), the National Advisory Committee for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (NAC), and the Task Force on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Examination of the history of the prosecutor's role shows that the Supreme Court's decision in the Gault case not only established protections for juveniles, but also irreversibly changed the prosecutor's role. However, the increasing number of prosecutors in delinquency proceedings is due not only to the increasingly adversarial nature of the juvenile justice system but also to the increase in juvenile crime. The three proposed sets of standards cover issues ranging from the size and organization of the prosecutor's office to the prosecutor's role in case screening, diversion, adjudication, and disposition. The standards agree that prosecutors should play a significant part in juvenile proceedings and have generally developed criteria which would create an able prosecutorial staff that would contribute to the juvenile justice system. The only flaws in the standards are the attempts to limit prosecutors' authority with respect to representing the State's interests. The two areas involving such limits are the recommendation to permit complainants to file a petition if the prosecution and intake staff decline to do so and the limitations on plea bargaining. The need for probable cause hearings when a juvenile is not detained is also questioned. It is concluded that an adversary system combined with procedural due process will protect the rights of juveniles and the community and may also help in the rehabilitation of juveniles. The subsequent discussion centers on such issues as the problems of rural communities and plea bargaining.