Juvenile Law

Courts recognize that children generally do not have the capacity to make informed decisions about their behavior. As such, when children commit crimes of varying degrees of seriousness, ranging from shoplifting or trespassing to something as serious as murder, these children are often treated differently in the justice system. For example, a juvenile offender may be offered a reduced penalty, an option to attend diversion programs as opposed to serving jail time, or the opportunity to expunge their criminal record upon turning 18 years old to avoid a permanent record. Juveniles also have specific rights under the law, including the right not to be questioned by law enforcement without permission from the child’s parents. See the articles and videos in this section for more information about juvenile rights and laws.