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What are juvenile delinquents?

You might hear people refer to teens who are acting up as juvenile delinquents, but the term actually has a place in the legal field. In the courtroom, a juvenile delinquent is someone who has committed an act that is in violation of the law. Sometimes, the act is only in violation of the law because the person is underage. Other times, the act would be considered criminal if the person was an adult.

Usually, individuals who are considered juvenile delinquents are aged 10 through 18. State and other laws and the type of crime allegedly committed determine how the courts treat the youth. In some cases, older teens might be tried as an adult for certain crimes, which means they would not be handled through juvenile courts or law proceedings.

Because the rules regarding how juveniles are treated under the law vary widely, and some leeway often exists for courts and prosecutors, it's important to have legal assistance and understanding when facing allegations of juvenile crime. Understanding how the court might treat an incident can help you prepare a proper defense for each situation.

The word delinquent might be a legal term, but it also has negative connotations. Being charged with a crime as a juvenile has negative consequences on a child or teen. Negative consequences can include being removed from sports teams or other extracurricular activities or even being expelled from school. Academics aren't the only area that might suffer--a conviction, even in juvenile court, can lead to social issues for teens as well.

Protecting a child's rights and future is important. Understanding how criminal law strategies might minimize consequences is one way to protect a teen's future when facing juvenile crime charges.

Source: FindLaw, "Juvenile Delinquents," accessed Aug. 28, 2015

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