Home Law International Handbook of Juvenile Justice
AGE OF MAJORITY
There continues to be variation across the states regarding the age of jurisdiction for the juvenile court (Zang 2016). In the United States, states set age limits for the minimum age of responsibility and upper age limit of jurisdiction. The minimum age to consider a case for a delinquency hearing ranges from age 6 in North Carolina to age 10 in 11 states, while 33 states do not specify a minimum age. The maximum age for consideration ranges from 15 (New York and North Carolina) to 17 (41 states and the District of Columbia). The majority of states also have an option to extend jurisdiction well past the maximum court jurisdiction so that those who offended in adolescence continue to receive treatments and punishments well into adulthood. Thirty-six states allow for jurisdiction to be extended until the juvenile is 20 years old, while four states (California, Oregon, Montana, and Wisconsin) allow jurisdiction to extend until the juvenile is 24 years old. The age of jurisdiction policies of American states have attempted to have it both ways, arguing that responsibility begins early but ends late.
In addition to juvenile court jurisdiction, states have also outlined the age at which juveniles may be transferred into the criminal justice system through a variety of mechanisms, including judicial waiver (44 states), prosecutorial discretion (14 states), and statutory exclusions (40 states) (National Center for Juvenile Justice 2016). In states that allow for judicial waivers, many do not specify the minimum age at which juveniles may be transferred (e.g., Arizona and Oklahoma) (Griffin et al. 2011). States with a minimum transferrable age range from 10 to 16 years old depending upon the offense committed (e.g., felony, murder, property offense, drug offense). In states where prosecutors have the discretion to transfer jurisdiction, the minimum age by which transfer can occur ranges from 12 to 16 years old. Finally, juveniles are increasingly being waived due to statutory exclusions, which exclude juveniles from juvenile court jurisdiction based upon the type of offense committed and the age of the defendant. The minimum age of statutory exclusions ranges from 10 to 17 years old. Over time, the trend across most states has been to lower the age at and expand offense types for which juveniles can be placed into the criminal justice system. This treatment of juveniles in the United States has been criticized globally, as countries worldwide have been increasingly recognizing the need to protect young juveniles from harsh punishments.
|< Prev||CONTENTS||Next >|