Definition of Status offense
The definition of the status offense is, “A type of crime that is not based upon prohibition action or inaction but rests solely on the fact that the status offender has a particular personal condition or is of specific characteristics”
What is a status offense for a juvenile?
Status offenses are petty offenses committed by a Minor that would otherwise not be treated as an offense if the minor was an adult. It is often wrongful and chargeable when executed by a minor. The court applies restrictions to the child’s activity in this case. The entire process of reporting a crime to the penalty is done considering that the crime is committed by a minor and should have any long-lasting adverse effects on the child’s behavior.
What are the types of Status crimes for a juvenile?
There are 5 primary types of status crimes which are as follows:
Education is a must for children as per the law, and for action, violating the child’s right is a crime. Truancy refers to chronic, unexcused absences from school that exceed the number of allowed leave under state law. Each state in the US has a law that specifies the age at which the child must begin school and the age where the child can legally drop out of school. The attendance law allows each child to take up a certain number of leaves every school year, and absenteeism above the permitted number may lead to truancy. The teacher and the school management ought to look into the child’s background and check with the family or guardian.
It is not always easy to deal with emotional and mental baggage. Loss of a loved one, ignorance by parents, childhood trauma, or simply an unguided child may tend to be a runaway youth. A runaway child is defined as “a child who leaves home without permission and stays away overnight.’’ as per the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Runaways can be short (Situational runaway) or long-term. It can stretch up from a few nights to months being away from home. Most of the long-term runaways are children who feel the need to escape a challenging family situation, an ongoing family problem, mental and health pressure, abuse, or neglect and hence do not return home for months at a time. Systems youth live under the care of the state and usually refuse to return home. Lastly, there are “throwaways’’ children that have been removed from their house due to relentlessly upfront terrible behavior.
Curfews are systemic time rules provided to minors and youths to keep off the public spaces after a particular hour during the night. This is, however, not applicable for children/ students who travel for religious activities, family or school functions, work-related events, and so on. It is to easily understand why a child of a minor age would be up on the streets past midnight. There can be severe reasons behind such behavior. Maybe the child has runoff, is on the road due to a situation at home, is running away after witnessing a crime, or is simply lost. The police have to note such a child and report it to the parents or the guardians. They can also hold the parent or guardian for negligence towards the child.
The District of Columbia enforces a curfew that applies to youth well under 17 from September through June to stay off the street from Sunday through Thursday between 11 pm to 6 am. Saturday and Sunday, the curfew is limited to 12 am until 6 am in July and August. Some US states also have a curfew, and any violation of the curfew can result in a status offense.
The legal age in most states to consume alcohol is 21 years. Yet underage drinking is the most common crime prevalent in the youth. A quarter of youth between the ages of 12 to 20 has been reported drinking or binge drinking. These are known as MIP (Minor in Possession) of alcohol drinking. However, it is a non-criminal behavior considered a crime because the age of the person is deemed as a minor. Between the ages of 18 to 20, it is considered a criminal offense for adults.
The states across the US have seen a gradual rise in the number of minors arrested for underage drinking.
Ungovernable or Incorrigible Youth
When status offenders are beyond parental control, it is considered incorrigible or ungovernable youth. This is easily classified as when the child deliberately commits a status offense with no remorse of wrongdoing. Such a child is placed under behavioral correctional supervision and is possible in a rehabilitation program. For example, a child may be addicted to shoplifting. They may have no control and cannot be easily understood; hence there is a behavior correctional rehab for such children.
A Status offense is not recorded in the criminal records. When a youth gets referred to a juvenile court for a status offense, the court may divert the child from the normal judiciary process to an informal process. In some cases, the court may also decide for the youth under the juvenile law to address the crime by filing a petition. The court may adjust such petitioned cases in the juvenile court. The court may give the youth or the child out-of-home placement probation or less restrictive sanctions.