Who are juveniles?

Juveniles are generally defined as persons under the age of 18 and above the age of 10. An individual's age is usually established by testimony or a birth certificate. Each state and the federal government have unique laws defining the beginning and end age of juveniles. A juvenile who is alleged to have committed an offense may have their case heard in juvenile court. This is a type of civil court. It has different rules than adult criminal court. Juvenile court (or “juvenile delinquency court”) provides defendants with fewer rights than they would receive in an adult criminal court. In many states, juveniles do not have the right to a jury trial. Typically, juveniles have the right to an attorney and an appeal.

The term minor is also used to characterize young people. It is usually used to categorize persons who are not allowed to engage in an activity. A minor can be a person under the age of 21 in cases that relate to the consumption of alcohol.

States treat juveniles and minors in different manners. In some states, juveniles accused of traffic offenses have their case heard in regular traffic court. Depending on the juvenile's age, a prosecutor may be able to motion to have the case of an older juvenile moved to adult criminal court. Children under the age of 10 who are alleged to have committed an offense are usually referred to a state-run or state-administered social services program.

The idea of treating persons between the ages of 10 and 18 differently came about at the end of the 19th century in the United States. The primary purpose of the juvenile courts and state and federal government juvenile justice systems are to rehabilitate, rather than punish, juveniles and minors. Juveniles and minors who are detained in juvenile detention centers are often provided with opportunities to further their education and learn manual trades.