• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court ruled that any judicial proceeding involving a possible loss of liberty, including juvenile courts, must use the standard of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

In the landmark case, In re Gault[case]Gault, In re[Gault, In re] (1967), the Supreme Court ruled that juvenile courts must apply the fundamental procedural guarantees of due process that are enjoyed by adults in criminal trials. In conformity with New York state law, nevertheless, a family court judge used the preponderance of evidence standard when sentencing twelve-year-old Samuel Winship to a school for juvenile delinquents. By a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court overturned the sentence. Writing for the Court, Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.,Brennan, William J., Jr.;Winship, In re[Winship, In re] declared that the reasonable doubt standard is among “the essentials of due process and fair treatment.” Throughout the nation’s legal history, he argued, there had been “virtual unanimous adherence” to this demanding burden of proof. In dissent, Justice Hugo L. Black accused the majority of amending the Bill of Rights, which was silent about the standard of proof necessary for a criminal conviction. The next year, in McKeiver v. Pennsylvania[case]McKeiver v. Pennsylvania[MacKeiver v. Pennsylvania] (1971), the Court decided that juveniles did not have the right to a trial by jury.Juvenile justice;Winship, In re[Winship, In re]

Due process, procedural

Gault, In re

Jury, trial by

Juvenile justice

McKeiver v. Pennsylvania

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