Juvenile Delinquent Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Juvenile Delinquent?

The children normally below 18 years of age found guilty of commiting a crime and violated the law. Since the US states consider the crime by minors a bit lightly due to their lack of responsibility, some states in US have reduced the age to 14 years to punish the the juvenile as an adult for the crime.

History and Meaning of Juvenile Delinquent

The term "juvenile delinquent" is typically used to describe a minor who has committed a crime or violated the law. In the United States, the concept of juvenile delinquency emerged in the early 20th century, as lawmakers recognized the need to differentiate between adult and juvenile offenders in the justice system. Prior to this time, minors were often punished in the same way as adults for criminal offenses.

The modern concept of juvenile delinquency focuses on rehabilitation and providing young offenders with the support they need to stay out of trouble. While minors can still face serious consequences for criminal behavior, the system is designed to be more supportive and less punitive than it is for adult offenders.

Examples of Juvenile Delinquent

  1. A 15-year-old vandalizes a local park and is caught by the police. They are charged with juvenile delinquency and must attend counseling and community service as a consequence.

  2. A 16-year-old shoplifts from a convenience store and is arrested. The minor's parents are contacted, and they are required to attend family counseling as part of their child's probation.

  3. A group of teenagers is caught smoking marijuana in a public park. While possessing marijuana is a serious offense, law enforcement officers may choose to treat this as a case of juvenile delinquency, with the goal of education and rehabilitation.

Legal Terms Similar to Juvenile Delinquent

  1. Status offender: This type of offender is not charged with a crime, but rather with breaking a law related to their age, such as truancy or curfew violations.
  2. Youth offender: This term is often used interchangeably with juvenile delinquent and refers to someone under the age of 18 who has committed a crime.
  3. Juvenile offender: Another term for a minor who has violated the law. This can include status offenses or crimes.