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What are juvenile status offenses?

A juvenile who is facing the juvenile justice system isn't always facing a very serious criminal charge. In some cases, juveniles can face status offenses. While these are serious because they do affect the juvenile, they aren't as serious as some of the other charges that juveniles might face.

What are status offenses?

Status offenses are actions that a juvenile does that wouldn't result in criminal charges for an adult. Essentially, these are offenses that are only offenses because of the person's age. Truancy is an example of a status offense. In that case, a juvenile would get in trouble for skipping school but an adult who is going to college wouldn't face a trip to criminal court if he or she did the same.

What happens when a juvenile is charged with a status offense?

In most cases, the juvenile would be referred to an agency outside of the juvenile court system. This is because the 1974 Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act, which moved to deinstitutionalize status offenses so that juveniles wouldn't automatically be placed in juvenile detention. That, however, doesn't mean that a court can't confine a juvenile for a status offense. Instead, it means that most courts usually try other methods for dealing with the behavior first.

If your child is facing a status offense, it is very important that your child is able to voice his or her side of the story. In doing so, it might be possible that more appropriate action is taken to help the child learn from his or her mistakes and move forward in the rehabilitative process.

Source: FindLaw, "Juveniles and Age ("Status") Offenses," accessed Feb. 26, 2016

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