When a child under the age of 18 years old is arrested or breaks the law, they are entered into the juvenile court system. There, they will face a series of legal procedures, obligations, penalties, and ultimately, a conviction. Their conviction, however, largely depends on whether they are charged with a delinquent offense or a status offense.
If your child was recently arrested, it is important to learn the difference between the two types of offenses. Not only can this help you better understand what to expect from the juvenile court proceedings, it can also help you protect your child from future brushes with the law.
Continue reading to learn the difference between a delinquent offense and a status offense.
Status offenses are special because they can only be committed by people of a certain status. This does not mean wealth or intellect; instead, it refers to age. A status offense is only illegal for those who are underage, also known as minors. A minor is someone that is not old enough to partake in a certain behavior or action.
For example, a person under 16 years of age cannot operate a vehicle, a person under the age of 18 cannot smoke or purchase cigarettes, and a person under the age of 21 cannot consume nor purchase alcohol. All three of these individuals are considered “minors”, which means they would commit a status offense if they are caught partaking in any of the actions just mentioned.
Additional Examples of Status Offenses:
✤ Curfew Violations
✤ Running Away From Home
Delinquent offense are different from status offenses, primarily because they are crimes that can be committed by individuals of any age. Basically, both minors and adults can commit delinquent offenses. Examples of such crimes include shoplifting, operating a vehicle without a license, drunk driving, fraud, assault, vandalism, and any other action that is against state and federal laws. Minors who commit delinquent offenses are more likely to face harsher penalties.
Most often, less serious cases will result in an informal plan of probation; but more serious offenses can lead to a minor having to go before a judge and being sentenced to a juvenile detention center. If a minor is near 18 years old and commits an egregious crime, such as murder, they may be prosecuted as an adult. Check out our recent blog, “How Does the Juvenile Court System Work?” to learn more about juvenile court.
Who to Talk to About Your Child’s Case
Call David E. Lewis, Attorney at Law, at 317-636-7514 for aggressive and experienced criminal defense in Indianapolis, Indiana. Our law firm offers free initial consultations to discuss the best strategies for defense against your child’s criminal charges. Call 317-636-7514 to schedule your consultation with a trusted Indianapolis criminal lawyer, today.