What is Gault Decision?

The Gault decision, a momentous ruling by the US Supreme Court in 1967, centers around the case of a young man named Gerald Gault. When he was only 15, he was detained by police in Arizona without the knowledge of his parents and was denied legal counsel.

However, the Gault decision found that minors, like adults, must be afforded the same due process rights in criminal proceedings.

In particular, the Court held that juveniles have the right to receive notice of the charges against them, the right to an attorney, the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses, and the right to remain silent.

This decision was a game-changer, as many states had previously provided less legal protection to juveniles in the criminal justice system.

The Gault decision was a turning point for the treatment of juvenile defendants in the legal system, as it underscored the importance of fairness and equality. The decision also led to the establishment of the principle that juvenile proceedings should be distinct from adult criminal proceedings and that the focus should be on rehabilitation and treatment rather than punishment.

This principle has had an enduring impact on the development of juvenile justice policy in the United States.