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Juvenile Court Jurisdiction


Typically, juvenile courts have jurisdiction over most cases involving legal minors. The age of majority is set by each state and ranges from 16 to 18, meaning in some states, 16- or 17-year-olds may be tried as adults for all offenses. For certain offenses, children younger than the age of majority may be referred to the “adult” criminal court.

Some states have a minimum age of competence, at which point juveniles are prosecuted. Others do not define the age of competence but allow the courts to determine competence on a case-by-case basis.

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State Juvenile Court Jurisdiction – Youngest * Juvenile Court Jurisdiction – Oldest **
Alabama 17
Alaska 17
Arizona 8 17
Arkansas 10 17
California 17
Colorado 10 17
Connecticut 18
Delaware 17
District of Columbia 17
Florida 17
Georgia 16
Hawaii 17
Idaho 17
Illinois 16
Indiana 17
Iowa 17
Kansas 10 17
Kentucky 17
Louisiana 10 16
Maine 17
Maryland 7 17
Massachusetts 7 16
Michigan 16
Minnesota 10 17
Mississippi 10 17
Missouri 16
Montana 17
Nebraska 17
Nevada 17
New Hampshire 16
New Jersey 17
New Mexico 17
New York 7 15
North Carolina 6 15
North Dakota 7 17
Ohio 17
Oklahoma 17
Oregon 17
Pennsylvania 10 17
Rhode Island 17
South Carolina 16
South Dakota 10 17
Tennessee 17
Texas 10 16
Utah 17
Vermont 10 17
Virginia 17
Washington 17
West Virginia 17
Wisconsin 10 16
Wyoming 17

* Earliest age at which a juvenile court may exercise jurisdiction over a child. States not noted determine the jurisdiction of the court based on case law and circumstances demonstrating the child’s competence, or lack thereof.

** Maximum age at which a juvenile court may exercise jurisdiction over a minor. However, some crimes are, by statute, tried in adult court. Also, juvenile court judges can refer a case to “regular” court. Therefore, many juveniles under the maximum jurisdictional age limit for juvenile court may be processed through the adult court system.

Is Your Child Facing Charges? Speak with an Attorney Today

Juvenile charges can bring life-long consequences. Depending on your child’s age, the nature of the charges, and whether this is a first or repeat offense, a conviction as a juvenile may lead to anything from parental supervision to imprisonment.

To get a better understanding of the charges your child is facing and the potential consequences, discuss your child’s case with a local criminal defense attorney. Getting started is easy. Simply fill out the quick case review form below to arrange your free initial meeting with a defense lawyer today.

This table is believed to be accurate as of August 2009. This table is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon. Many factors besides the maximum/minimum ages for jurisdiction impact whether a minor is tried in juvenile court or adult court, and the specifics vary from state to state.

For legal advice, consult a criminal defense attorney in your state. Simply fill out our free attorney evaluation form or call 877-445-1059 today and we will connect you with an attorney in your area for your no-obligation consultation.

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