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Juvenile Court Jurisdiction At A Glance

Juvenile Court Jurisdiction

While Federal law defines a minor as anyone younger than 18, juvenile arrests can only be made for certain age ranges within the entire population. In other words, there are minimum and maximum limits to who may be petitioned to appear before a juvenile court. Imaginably, the very young are generally not considered to be mentally aware enough to be culpable for any offenses committed at their developmental level, and realistically, the likelihood of them committing a serious crime is slim to none.

As for the maximum age of jurisdiction of juvenile court, this, along with the minimum age, is maintained by the states. In accordance with Federal law, most states have set the age of majority at 18, but others have lowered the age by which an individual may be tried in a criminal court. Then again, there are also procedures by which juvenile rights may be extended beyond the age of 18, sometimes until the age of 21 or even farther.

Age is not the only factor by which juvenile arrests in one State may fail to earn an offender a trip to juvenile court. Rather, juvenile rights may be negated in certain jurisdictions for certain charges, especially for grievous offenses such as murder, rape and assault. Just the same, some juvenile arrests that originally brought a child to criminal court may see them transferred back to juvenile court by a process known as "reverse waiver."

Then again, under likewise special conditions, specific offenses may seemingly arbitrarily prevent a child from receiving the protection of juvenile court. Judges across the United States have been particularly tough on children possessing and/or operating firearms and other dangerous weapons.

NEXT: All You Need to Know About The History Juvenile Detention

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