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39. The Nature Of Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings

The juvenile delinquency proceeding itself is essentially a closed bench trial. When detention may follow the proceeding, juveniles have been held to have constitutional rights under the due process clause which include adequate notice, the assistance of counsel, the privilege against self-incrimination, and the privilege of confronting and cross-examining the witnesses. In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967). When a juvenile is charged with an act which would constitute a crime if committed by an adult, the due process clause also requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358 (1970). The Federal Rules of Evidence appear to apply to juvenile proceedings. See Fed. R. Evid. 1101. Juveniles do not have a constitutional right to a jury trial in juvenile court. McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, 403 U.S. 528 (1971).

The entire proceeding is subject to the limitations set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 5038 on disclosure of the identity of the juvenile defendant and information about the juvenile proceedings. The usual methods of complying with these limitations include filing documents in the case under seal, using the juvenile's initials or "John Doe" to describe the juvenile in pleadings, and conducting proceedings in a closed courtroom or in chambers. See this Manual at 47 for a sample juvenile information.

[cited in USAM 9-8.230]

Updated May 19, 2015