Delinquent Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Delinquent, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Delinquent?

1\) adj. not paid on time, nor in the full amount. 2) n. Term for an underage law violator, or juvenile delinquent.

History and Meaning of Delinquent

The word "delinquent" has its roots in the Latin term "delinquere," which means "to fail." In the legal context, it typically refers to someone who has failed to meet a financial obligation, such as paying a debt or fulfilling a contract. However, it is also commonly used to describe a minor who has committed a criminal offense.

In the United States, the term "juvenile delinquent" was first coined in the early 1900s as part of the progressive movement to reform the criminal justice system. Prior to that time, children were often treated the same as adults in the justice system, with little regard for their age or maturity level. The juvenile justice system was established as an alternative approach to dealing with young offenders, with a focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment.

Examples of Delinquent

  1. John is delinquent on his car loan and hasn't made a payment in three months.
  2. The company sent a letter stating that the account is delinquent and immediate payment is required.
  3. The judge found the teenager guilty of being a delinquent for breaking into a store and stealing merchandise.
  4. The school called the parents to inform them that their child was delinquent in turning in several assignments.
  5. The homeowner's association sent a notice to the homeowner that their dues were delinquent and a late fee would be assessed.

Legal Terms Similar to Delinquent

  1. Debtor: A person or entity that owes a debt to another party.
  2. Defaulter: A person or entity that fails to meet a financial obligation, such as making a payment on a debt or fulfilling a contract.
  3. Offender: A person who commits an illegal act or breaks a law.
  4. Recidivist: An individual who repeatedly engages in criminal behavior and has a history of repeated arrests and convictions.
  5. Insolvent: A person or entity that is unable to pay their debts as they become due.