The Mississippi court system that handles adults’ cases classifies alleged offenses according to their seriousness. Felonies are more serious, while misdemeanors are less serious. If you are the parent of a child alleged to have committed a crime or wrongdoing of some kind, you should know that youth court has classifications of offenses too. However, the youth court classifications are not exactly the same as those for adults.
According to the Mississippi state bar, Youth Court categorizes misdeeds by juveniles into three categories. These are not strictly analogous to the two classifications for adults’ offenses.
- Criminal offenses
Armed robbery or homicide are examples of criminal offenses. These are serious crimes, and in the state of Mississippi, if law enforcement makes allegations that your child committed one, he or she could stand trial as an adult if he or she is over age 13. Depending on the alleged offense, the penalties could include death or life imprisonment.
- Delinquent acts
If a juvenile commits an act that the court would consider a crime if he or she were an adult, that is a delinquent act. If the delinquent act is particularly serious, a judge may choose to transfer it to the adult criminal court. Otherwise, prosecution of a delinquent act is a civil proceeding rather than a criminal one. There is no jury, and the youth court proceeding is not open to the public.
The appropriate action to correct the behavior of the juvenile is up to the judge to decide. This may involve sending the youth to a training school supported by the state. The superintendent must release the juvenile before he or she turns 20 years of age, but other than that, the superintendent has the authority to decide when to release the youth.
- Status offenses
Children age seven to 18 may commit status offenses. These represent a willful and persistent flouting of rules set by authority figures, such as school administrators and parents. Running away from home, excessive school absences and habitual disobedience of parents are examples of status offenses. The legal proceedings and consequences are the same for status offenses as for delinquent acts.
The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.