Minnesota juvenile courts have jurisdiction over individuals under the age of 18 who engage in criminal conduct. In contrast to the adult courts in Minnesota, the juvenile proceeding is not a “criminal” proceeding designed to determine criminal responsibility and punishment, but rather, it is a “civil” proceeding designed to protect a child from the consequences of his or her own conduct, develop individual responsibility for unlawful behavior, rehabilitate him or her and, at the same time, promote public safety. Minnesota juvenile statutes address the juvenile court system in Minnesota.
Juvenile Delinquents Under Minnesota Law
Individuals under the age of 18 who commit acts which would be criminal if committed by an adult are deemed “delinquents.”
CHIPS Cases (Protective Services)
Cases involving children under the age of ten who are alleged to have committed an act that would be criminal if committed by an adult are handled as civil CHIPS (children in need of protection or services) hearings.
Children who engage in conduct which is unlawful for them, but not unlawful for adults, such as violating curfew, drinking, and smoking are “petty offenders.” Also included in the petty offender category are juveniles who commit petty misdemeanors and juveniles charged with their first or second non-violent misdemeanor offense, with the exception of certain designated offenses.
Juvenile Traffic Offenders
Children who violate traffic laws are “juvenile traffic offenders.” In certain cases, depending on the age of the child and the nature of the traffic offense, the matter may be handled exclusively by the adult court rather than the juvenile court.
Assuming the juvenile court retains jurisdiction over the alleged juvenile offender and, after a hearing, determines that the child engaged in the unlawful conduct, the court has a variety of disposition options, including: fines, probation, counseling, home detention, sex offender treatment, placement out of the home, loss of driver’s license, restitution or community service, and (for delinquents only) commitment to the Commissioner of Corrections for placement in a state juvenile correctional facility.
If you need to learn more about your rights and obligations as a juvenile offender, or if your son or daughter faces a serious juvenile charge, please call (218) 346-4995 for a consultation.