Breed v. Jones (1975) | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Juvenile Justice

In Breed v. Jones (1975), the Court extended the constitutional protection against Double Jeopardy to juveniles when it ruled that juveniles cannot be found delinquent in juvenile court and then transferred to adult court without a hearing on the transfer.

Breed v. Jones (1975) was a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that expanded the constitutional protection against double jeopardy to juveniles. The case involved a 17-year-old boy who was charged with robbery in juvenile court and found to be delinquent. However, before sentencing, the court transferred the case to adult court, where the defendant was subsequently convicted and sentenced to a longer term of imprisonment. The defendant argued that the transfer violated the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits a person from being tried twice for the same offense.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court agreed with the defendant and ruled that the transfer violated the Double Jeopardy Clause. The Court held that the transfer was the equivalent of a new trial on the same offense and, therefore, constituted double jeopardy. The Court reasoned that the juvenile court proceedings were not merely preparatory to the adult court proceedings but rather constituted a separate adjudication of guilt or innocence. As such, the defendant had already been placed in jeopardy in juvenile court, and transferring the case to adult court for a new trial would subject him to double jeopardy.

The Court’s decision in Breed v. Jones had significant implications for the juvenile justice system. Prior to the decision, many states had laws that allowed juveniles to be transferred to adult court without a hearing or any other procedural protections. The decision ensured that juveniles would have the same protection against double jeopardy as adults and could not be subject to multiple trials or punishments for the same offense.

The decision in Breed v. Jones also reflected a broader trend in the Warren Court’s jurisprudence, which sought to expand the constitutional protections available to criminal defendants and juveniles. The Warren Court was known for its liberal views, and its commitment to civil rights, and the decision in Breed v. Jones was consistent with this approach. The decision marked a significant shift in the treatment of juveniles in the criminal justice system, recognizing that they, too, are entitled to constitutional protections and due process of law.

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Last Modified: 04/08/2023


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