Status Offenses

Status Offenses

 What are Status Offenses?

Status offenses are a special category of illegal behaviors that apply only to juveniles and would not be considered illegal if done by an adult. The most common of these are:
School Truancy   Running Away from Home
Curfew Violations  Incorrigible
The Juvenile Court policy regarding status offenders is based on the philosophy that they are most effectively handled on a diversionary basis by a counseling agency other than the Court with all efforts directed at keeping the family intact. Juvenile Court's jurisdiction over status offenses will be exercised as a last resort after finding that all voluntary resources have been exhausted.

Information that Parents Need to Know When Filing a Complaint for Status Offenses:

  1. The Court normally will not accept a petition unless:

    • the child deserted his/her home without sufficient cause and the Court can find on the record that the child has been placed or refused alternative placement or the child and the child's parent, guardian, or custodian have exhausted or refused family counseling; or
    • the child is repeatedly disobedient to the reasonable and lawful commands of his or her parents, guardian, or custodian and the Court can find on the record that by clear and convincing evidence that court-accessed services are necessary; or
    • the child willingly and repeatedly absents himself or herself from school or other learning program intended to meet the child's educational needs, or repeatedly violates rules and regulations of the school or other learning program, and the Court can find on record that the child, the child's parent, guardian, or custodian, and school officials or learning program personnel have met on the child's educational problems, and educational counseling and alternative agency help have been sought.  As used in this subparagraph only learning program means an organized educational program that is appropriate , given the age, intelligence, ability, and psychological limitations of a child, in the subject areas of reading, spelling, mathematics, science, history, civics, writing, and English grammar.
  2. The Court normally will not authorize a petition for formal hearings on your child until:

    • Reports from previous agencies who have worked with the parent and child are received; and
    • The reports indicate a sincere effort was made to resolve the problem.
  3. If a petition is authorized for a formal hearing:

    • Parents will submit a financial statement with the Financial Clerk of the Juvenile Court.
    • Children will be assigned a court-appointed attorney as required by law. Parents are normally held responsible for all or a portion of the cost of the court-appointed attorney.
  4. If a child is removed from his/her home the cost or part of the cost for the child's care will be at the parent's expense.
  5. If the Court exercises jurisdiction over a child, it will require the juvenile and his/her family to follow a treatment plan that is designed to meet the best interests of the child. The Court is required by law to use the least restrictive placement available. The Court will consider continuing placement in the child's own home, private foster home, or relative's home prior to any institutional placement.