Who are juveniles?

The legal definition of juvenile generally refers to any person under the age of 18 but above the age of 10. Juveniles alleged to have committed an offense may have their case heard in juvenile court, a type of civil court with different rules than an adult criminal court. In certain cases, older juveniles can be tried as adults in criminal court. Scroll down to learn more about who juveniles are in the eyes of the court.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Juveniles are generally defined as persons under the age of 18 and above the age of 10. An individual’s age is usually established by testimony or a birth certificate. Each state and the federal government have unique laws about who are juveniles and defining the beginning and end of juvenile age

Read on to find out how are juveniles treated differently than adults. If you need help from an attorney, just enter your ZIP code below.

What does juvenile offender mean?

A juvenile who is alleged to have committed an offense may have their case heard in juvenile court. This is a type of civil court. It has different rules than the adult criminal court.

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What is a juvenile court?

Juvenile court (or “juvenile delinquency court”) provides defendants with fewer rights than they would receive in an adult criminal court. In many states, juveniles do not have the right to a jury trial. Typically, juveniles convicted of a juvenile crime have the right to an attorney and an appeal.

The proceedings are civil as opposed to criminal; meaning that juvenile offenders are accused of committing a juvenile delinquent act. A juvenile case opens when a prosecutor or probation officer files a civil petition, charging the juvenile with violating a criminal statute. The court then determines if the juvenile is delinquent and decides what’s in the juvenile’s best interest.

What is the difference between a juvenile and a minor?

The term minor is also used to characterize young people. It is usually used to categorize persons who are not allowed to engage in an activity. A minor can be a person under the age of 21 in cases that relate to the consumption of alcohol.

States treat juveniles and minors in different manners. In some states, juveniles accused of traffic offenses have their case heard in regular traffic court. Depending on the juvenile’s age, a prosecutor may be able to motion to have the case of an older juvenile moved to adult criminal court.

Children under the age of 10 who are alleged to have committed an offense are usually referred to a state-run or state-administered social services program.

The idea of treating persons between the ages of 10 and 18 differently came about at the end of the 19th century in the United States.

The primary purpose of the juvenile courts and state and federal government juvenile justice systems is to rehabilitate, rather than punish, juveniles, and minors. Juveniles and minors who are detained in a juvenile detention center are often provided with opportunities to further their education and learn manual trades.

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