Juvenile Justice (Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings) - Jurisdiction after adulthood

Reference to a previous question I had asked about JD proceedings: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=575899

I was taught as a child that if I ever got involved in the Juvenile Court System and went to Juvenile Hall that EVERYTHING stopped at your 18th birthday. E.g. if you went to Juvenile Hall for Murder after having being found responsible therefor in Juvenile Court, you literally walked out the door on your 18th birthday with a clean record.

  1. Is this actually true? Are there any sentences given in Juvenile Court that can remain in effect after the defendant has reached adulthood? E.g. are there 19 year old college students that are still reporting for their 5-year Juvenile Probation that was given to them at age 15?
  2. If you are found responsible for a juvenile offense but by the time the engines of justice have proceeded to final adjudication you are already an adult, does the judge’s sentence literally have no effect?


Judge: “It is the judgment of this court that John Smith is hereby adjudicated a Juvenile Delinquent and is remanded to the State Reform Home for 2 years or until adulthood, whichever is sooner.”
John Smith: “I turned 18 yesterday, bye bye!”

For the purposes of this question, we are talking about actual juvenile delinquency proceedings, not adult criminal proceedings instituted for juvenile offenses under statutes authorizing trying children in adult court.

In some jurisdictions the maximum age for jurisdiction is 21 or 25 (the maximum age for juvenile charges is still 18); upon turning 18 they’re transferred to a grown-up prison for the remainder of their sentence. Not wanting to have to release murderers at 18, 21, or 25 is why you see so many juveniles charged as adults.

In Colorado, any sexual offenses committed as a juvenile require you to register as a sex offender. While the actual offense is hidden, the fact that you are a registered sex offender is public knowledge. As you stated, though, anything else, including murder, is hidden from public scrutiny after you become an adult (assuming you were not charged as an adult, of course).


It varies according to jurisdiction but at least in the ones I am familiar with

  1. For some particularly henious crimes, they might be charged as adults (what seems to be the US preference) or kept on in Juvenile Prisons for longer. Juveniles will often be given lesser sentences than an adult and be eligable for (and more likely to get) release than an equivalent adult offender. Furthermore many adult prisons tend to keep 18-25’s seperate or at least consider them vulnerable so the risks of sending what is still a very young offender is protected. In others Courts have discretion to send recently turned 18 year olds to a Juvenule prison; recently one of the cricket spot fixing players was sent to a young offenders institute even though he was above 18 at the time of the offence.

  2. Although Juvenile proceedings are usually *in camera *and their exist many restrictions on reporting, and while Juvenile Court records are sealed for the general public, an offender can are routinely are placed on restrictions even after release and achieving majority.

While this might come as a surprise judges can both read a calendar and count to 18 without taking their shoes off.
I know one case (told to me by a juvie PO) where a 15 year old kid was one the hook for a huge string of armed robberies. The deal they offered him was 30 years straight time no parole, get out at 45.

In Canada, I think the rule is that unless the crime was especially extreme (and so raised to adult court), the usual maximum a juvenile can be given in 3 years. Howerver, the clock does not stop at 18. There are plenty of cases that get to court and the detail mentioned in the news is “his name cannot be mentioned because he was a minor at the time of the offense”. So both trials and sentences carry on anyway once the perp is over 18. They just get a much lighter sentence sometimes.

IIRC many states have the option of trying a juvenile as an adult if the crime is extreme.

Robert, review your states Rules of Juvenile Procedure for some faq’s.

In Ohio, IIRC, the Juvenile Court’s jurisdiction continues until you’ve completed any sentence or probationary term imposed, regardless of your age. The JC also has jurisdiction over paternity and child support cases, so they can drag you in at any age for that.