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Status offenses only apply to juvenile justice cases

When a person who is still a minor runs afoul of the laws that apply to minors, it’s possible that he or she might find him or herself in the juvenile justice system. This system is very different from the adult criminal justice system in a variety of ways. One way is the presence of status offenses. These offenses are some that apply only to juveniles. They never apply to adults.

One example of a status offense is truancy. When a child misses too much school or skips school, he or she might be considered truant. If an adult misses work, there isn’t any criminal offense for that. Since the rule for having to go to school applies to the juvenile but not the adult, the child would face the status offense of truancy.

Another example if is a child stays out too late and breaks a curfew law, statute or ordinance. Unless an adult is court-ordered to be home by a certain time or a widespread curfew has been ordered because of an emergency, an adult who is out late wouldn’t face criminal charges simply for being out late. Because the child would get into legal trouble but the adult wouldn’t, the child would be charged with the status offense of a curfew violation.

Even though status offenses might not seem all that serious, they can still have an impact on the juvenile. If a juvenile is facing any case in the juvenile justice system, he or she has a right to have an attorney for the proceedings. This is very important since an attorney can help to explain what is going on and what options the juvenile has.

Source: FindLaw, “Juveniles and Age (“Status”) Offenses,” accessed March 25, 2016

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