Juvenile Delinquency: Minors Under the Law

Mar 2




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Juvenile Delinquency is the illegal act done by minors. Most of the juveniles are misdemeanor offenses while some are felony also, but the minors are not punished for the same as adults.


Juvenile delinquency is the act of crime or the violation of laws done by minors. The juvenile offenses are heard in juvenile court and if the court finds the minor to be delinquent then the court may order confinement,Juvenile Delinquency: Minors Under the Law Articles probation, curfew, etc depending on the age and the type of crime committed. Any juvenile crime is not punished like that of an adult offense, the minor may not be charged with the crime but may be determined as delinquent.


Types of Juvenile Offenses:


Juvenile offenses could be categorized in two and the categories included in it are related to the crimes committed by minors.


1. Delinquency Offense: Delinquency offenses are crimes that are always regarded as crimes whether conducted by adults or minors. Examples of delinquency offenses may include murder, rape, robbery. The property crimes and the violent crimes come under the delinquency offenses.


  • Property crimes: These are the types of juvenile crimes that include burglary, larceny, theft, and arson. Many of the juveniles are arrested for committing property crimes among which sixty percent are boys.


  • Violent Crimes: These are the types of juvenile crimes that include murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Among the juveniles arrested for violent crimes, eighty percent are boys.


2. Status Offense: Status offense is referred to certain actions that are only prohibited to minors and thus are considered unlawful however if the same actions are done by any adult then they are considered to be lawful. Examples of the status offense may include drinking alcohol, truancy (being regularly absent from the school without reason), running away from home, breaking curfew rules, consuming alcohol, etc. 


Status offenses have criminal status because they are committed by underage individuals, however status offenses the least serious types of juvenile delinquency.


Some of the Common Juvenile Crimes:


  • Larceny: It is the most common juvenile delinquency act which involves stealing and theft of a property that belongs to someone else. The most common acts of larceny are shoplifting, stealing a bicycle, stealing from backpacks. 


  • Assault: Teenagers get into a fight on small things. The assault may include bullying, physical and emotional abuse, taunting, etc. This is another juvenile crime that is most common and mostly done in schools.


  • Illegal Purchase: It is the juvenile crime in which minors may be engaged in buying illegal alcohol or cigarettes for their consumption. The minors may be arrested for DUI and many of the states have very strict laws for this. The minors may also indulge in buying drugs and consuming them, for which they may also be arrested. 


  • Vandalism: It is the action done to damage or destroy property, it may include adding graffiti to buildings, homes, and other public property.


Legal Penalties and punishment for Juvenile Delinquency: 


The juvenile court handles the juvenile crimes in which the court conducts adjudications, reviews minor’s acts, and decides the penalty for the juvenile considering the age, type of offense, any of the records in past, gender, social history, and parents control over the child.


The juvenile court often tries to give penalties rather than any form of incarceration and the penalties may include:

  • Monetary fines for parents
  • Counselings for minors
  • Written apology letter from minors
  • A citation that will be on the juvenile record
  • Electronic monitoring


Incarceration for Juvenile Delinquents: 

According to the status of the offense, the juvenile court may order incarceration as a penalty for the minor, the types of incarceration would be any of the following:

  • Home confinement (to remain in-home)
  • Placing the minor with someone other than a parent (in a group or foster home)
  • Minor to stay in a juvenile detention center
  • Probation
  • Blended sentence: In some cases, some jurisdiction may order the juvenile to stay in a juvenile facility till the age of 18 and then transfer them to an adult jail

Non-Incarceration for Juvenile Delinquents:

Depending on the crime, the juvenile court may make some disposition orders that may not include confinement are:

  • Verbal Warning
  • Fine
  • Community Service
  • Probation
  • Electronic Monitoring
  • Probation