The years between childhood and adulthood can be confusing, and are a period of time when most teenagers push boundaries. It is not uncommon for teens to try out different aspects of adulthood either, often by engaging in activities that they commonly associate with adults. However, some of these behaviors may be considered a status offense that can lead to serious legal consequences.
What is a status offense?
A status offense is an activity that is considered illegal solely because of the offender’s age. This means that it is something that would not be considered illegal if an adult engaged in the same behavior. Here are a few examples of status offenses in Washington:
- Cigarette purchases
- Curfew violations
- Possession or consumption of alcohol
Status offenses are not always pursued through the juvenile justice system. In some situations, teens may be diverted to programs intended to provide the help and support they need to get on a better path in life. Unfortunately, many minors still face legal consequences for status offenses, often — although not always — in conjunction with other offenses.
Washington teenagers deserve the opportunity to learn and grow from their mistakes. Unfortunately, that opportunity is rarely afforded to those who must navigate the juvenile justice system, as consequences such as juvenile detention often have a negative impact. Parents who are concerned about their child’s future regarding a possible status offense may be eager to learn more about minimizing any potential legal consequences, which may include speaking with an attorney who is experienced in juvenile law.