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It is no shock that minors will land in jail for using, possessing or selling drugs, or for stealing. After all, these are criminal offenses that are not unique to minors. However, when a minor is arrested for possessing or drinking alcohol, it's a little bit different, because adults cannot be arrested just for possessing or drinking alcohol. This distinction is what is known as a "status offense."
There are many crimes that only apply to juveniles because the crime requires that the offender be a minor. And while many of these criminal offenses may not seem severe, or may have light consequences, oftentimes children will suffer severe consequences just from being placed into the juvenile justice system.
Below are three non-violent juvenile offenses that can surprisingly result in kids being taken to juvenile jail.
While skipping school may rank pretty low on the list of morally bad crimes, in many jurisdictions, school skippers will get arrested for truancy. Often, a few offenses, with no other criminal record, will be tolerated by the courts, meaning a slap-on-the-wrist consequence like community service. But, if a kid keeps racking up truancy arrests, consequences can become more severe, and potentially even result in juvenile detention (and we're not talking like after-school detention, this means juvie, or juvenile jail).
While it seems odd to arrest a kid for running away, in many jurisdictions it is an arrestable offense. Children are not legally allowed to live on their own unless they have been emancipated from their parents or guardian. Usually, runaways will be reunited with their parents, but if they continue to run away, the juvenile justice system may impose consequences including an in-custody detention.
Violating a parent's rule on curfew isn't going to get a minor arrested. But that's not the case for a local, city, or state, curfew law requiring minors to be accompanied by an adult after a certain time, unless they are traveling to/from work, or between other permissible locations. Like truancy, a single, or even a couple, violations may not result in too much trouble, but repeated violations, or kids with criminal records, could face more serious consequences.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.