When a juvenile commits a crime, their age is taken into a huge consideration. Because of a juvenile’s age at the time of their crime, they could have committed what is called a “status” offense under criminal law. Some of the status offenses we commonly know are truancy, possession and consumption of alcohol, curfew violations, and purchase of cigarettes. Status offenses are crimes that are harmful to minors, so the courts work to protect minors.

A Brief History of Status Offenses 

Back in our country’s history, status offenses were handled in the juvenile justice system in every state. However, past the 70s, many states believed that they would change this because minors were just in desperate need of supervision for their crimes. States wanted to work to preserve families, ensure the safety of the public, and prevent young people from committing crimes in the future. This gave prosecutors the right to divert these offenses away from the juvenile court and give the cases to other agencies who could handle the matters, such as juveniles who were not coming to school or those who had a history of running away from home. About 94% of these cases involve liquor law violations, and are handled very seriously.

Juveniles can still expect to suffer penalties because of their actions. The penalties vary from state to state and can include suspending a juvenile’s driver’s license, requiring them to pay a fine, or ordering the juvenile to attend an education program or counseling. However, as the parents are sometimes responsible as well, they may also be ordered to partake in counseling with their child. Truancy is, of course, treated very seriously as the states want children to remain in school as much as possible. Parents could be held accountable for their children missing school.

To understand the laws of your state, speak to a criminal defense attorney today. In California, the highest age a child’s conduct can be considered a status offense is 17. Call us today at The Law Office of Peter Blair for more information.