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A look at the legal consequences of juvenile crimes

Alabama residents may be interested in some information about certain crimes that specifically affect minors. While these are often punished only informally, there is a potential for more serious penalties for both the parent and child involved.

Courts have determined that one of their roles is to protect minors from certain activities that they deem harmful. For example, truancy, violation of curfew and the purchase of cigarettes and alcohol are some of these so-called “status offenses.” However, there has been a movement over the past few decades to move these offenses away from the juvenile law system and into other agencies. Due to the lesser nature of the crimes, it was thought that rehabilitation would be better served outside of the justice system. Criminal punishment, the reasoning goes, could lead to recurring and escalating crimes. Even so, many juveniles are still subject to confinement for these offenses every year.

In many U.S. cities, there are curfew laws that prevent minors from being out after a certain time. However, if the minor breaks these rules, the are generally just held in a specified location until claimed by parents. If the parent has taken part in the crime, though, the parent may be held liable and subject to community service or other penalties. Similarly, skipping school is often handled through an informal process. Though, as with curfew violations, parents may be held liable for their child’s actions in some states.

Understanding the options when a minor is charged with a juvenile crime can be difficult without the guidance of a criminal defense attorney. The attorney may be useful in mounting a legal defense against the charges or working with the prosecutor in the plea bargaining process to reduce or eliminate the penalties.

Source: FindLaw, “Juveniles and Age (“Status”) Offenses,” Accessed April 14, 2015

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