A juvenile is a minor under the age of 18. Juvenile crime is often seen as “kids being kids.” This sentiment does not make juvenile crime any less serious in the eyes of the law. As a parent, you want your child to grow up safe. Not all kids have that luxury. If your child experiences a brush with the law, know there is hope for redemption.
We at Freundlich & Littman, LLC are your ally. If you need a juvenile crime lawyer for your child, we can help. Juvenile crime should not indicate your child’s entire life.
What Is A Juvenile Crime?
There are two main types of juvenile crime. The first is any crime committed by a person under the age of 18.
The second category is a “status offense”. These crimes are not crimes that an adult commits, by definition. The law restricts juveniles from certain acts. A juvenile is under the regulations of their parents and the state.
Certain crimes can supersede that age limitation. For certain crimes, a juvenile is an adult in the eyes of the court. Additionally, not all juvenile crimes go to court. In many instances, external programs take over in an attempt to avoid future run-ins.
Types Of Status Offenses
As mentioned above, a status offense is a crime committed only by a juvenile and not an adult.
For example, someone must be 18 years old to buy and use tobacco products. This means that anyone under the age of 18 whom either buys or uses tobacco would be guilty of a status offense. Likewise, no one may purchase or consume alcohol before the age of 21.
It is important to that anyone from 18-21 would simply receive an underage drinking charge. Someone who is under the age of 18 that buys or consumes alcohol is guilty of a status offense.
When someone is under the age of 18, they are under special care by their parents/guardians. The state also has an interest in keeping children safe. Attending school is mandatory for all children. The act of skipping school without permissions is truancy. The state feels that it is in the child’s best interest to attend school. Missing it without permission is, therefore, detrimental to the child’s development.
In the same spirit, many juveniles fall under a curfew law. The breaking of curfew is a status offense. This is once again in the best interest of the child. It prevents children from engaging in delinquent behavior.
While under their parent’s supervision, a child must remain in the home of their parent or guardian. The parent may give permission for the child to live elsewhere. Still, a child cannot decide for themselves to leave home. If there a child no longer feels safe, they should head for law enforcement or any other government agency.
The final status offense is “un-governability.” This is where a juvenile is beyond the control of their parents or guardians. In this instance, the government will step in to help bring the child into control.
How Pennsylvania Handles Status Offenses
After 1974, the laws emphasized that juvenile crimes become “deinstitutionalized.” This means that prosecutors have discretion to better help juveniles. This keeps status offenders out of juvenile courts. Pennsylvania wants to intervene to help the child. This means the state provides agencies to promote the child’s welfare. Agencies provide counseling and a means of staying out of trouble.
When Can A Juvenile Be Tried As An Adult?
The prosecutor may try a juvenile who break the laws beyond status offenses as an adult. There are several instances where breaking the law means that a juvenile is automatically tried as an adult. The prosecutor may try anyone, regardless of age, as an adult for a murder charge. If a juvenile was using a weapon and was 15 years or older the prosecutor may charge them as an adult.
Penalties For Juvenile Crimes
When juveniles end up in juvenile court over a status offense, the kinds of penalties the court may impose vary from state to state. Common penalties for status offense violations include;
If a juvenile violates a court order, most courts have the authority to order the juvenile to a detention facility. Courts may require that the juvenile’s parents attend counseling sessions or parenting classes.
Juvenile Crimes Attorney
When a juvenile becomes an adult they can have their criminal record erased or expunged. (See our article on Expungement for further information). Until the juvenile turns 18, the law subjects the juvenile to certain laws. If your child found themselves involved in a juvenile crime or status offense, please do not hesitate to contact us.