So-Called “Status” Offenses in the Juvenile System
In Pennsylvania, juveniles can be charged with summary offenses—acts that would be considered crimes if committed by adults. They can also be charged with what are known as “status offenses”—conduct that only brings sanctions because of the person’s status as a juvenile.
Common Types of Status Offenses
Some status offenses are obvious—violation of laws requiring that you be a certain age to engage in specified acts, such as drinking, driving or smoking. Status offenses also include, however, such offenses as truancy (specifically defined as failing to attend school as required), curfew violations, and running away from home.
Penalties for Status Offenses
In Pennsylvania, authorities seek to impose consequences that both preserve family relationships and serve as a disincentive to future criminal activity. Accordingly, penalties for status offenses are far less severe than for other illegal acts. A juvenile may be required to pay a fine or make restitution to the victim, or may face the loss of driving privileges. The court can order counseling or attendance at an educational program, or may determine that it’s in the child’s best interests to be placed in a foster home or other environment away from parents.
The vast majority of “status” offenses among minors involve truancy or absence from school. Typically, school districts set standards for maximum numbers of absences, and will initiate enforcement of truancy laws. Because of studies linking truancy with future delinquency, many school districts have started to work with law enforcement agencies to address problems related to school absence.
Contact the Law Firm of Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP
At the Law Firm of Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, we have more than 30 years of practice experience. Contact us online or call us at 717-233-5292 to set up an appointment. There is no charge for your initial consultation. We are available to meet with you evenings or weekends upon request.