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What kinds of consequences
can juveniles face?

When a juvenile is adjudicated for an offense, the punishment is based on two factors. How serious was the crime committed? And how many offenses has the juvenile already committed?

Real teen Chelsea tells her story from inside a juvenile detention facility: "I knew there would be consequences for what I was doing, but at that point in time, I wasn't thinking about that."


A juvenile who is charged with an offense for the first time could get a chance to straighten out if the offense is not very serious.

Misdemeanors are less serious offenses punishable by a jail term and/or a fine.

Felonies are more serious offenses, such as robbery, that may require a prison sentence.

State juvenile court judges may determine a juvenile's sentence using a process called Progressive Sanctions. For a juvenile, the severity of the sanction, or punishment, escalates each time the juvenile commits another offense.

Progressive Sanctions are sentencing guidelines established in the juvenile justice code. For a juvenile, the severity of the sanction, or punishment, progresses each time he or she commits another crime.

First-Offender programs involve disposing of a case without referral to juvenile court, and may be appropriate if a juvenile has never been adjudicated.

Deferred prosecution is an alternative to a formal adjudication of CINS or delinquent conduct. It is basically a six-month period of probation.

Community service may be ordered. This is a term or condition of probation or deferred prosecution requiring a juvenile to work for or repay the community for his or her crime.

The juvenile justice system is designed to give first-time offenders a chance to get right. But the law also recognizes that some repeat juvenile offenders commit violent and terrible crimes. On the far end of the progressive sanction model, penalties can be severe.

big serious fact
You may serve up to 40 years in prison for a capital or first-degree felony offense committed as a juvenile.

Determinate sentencing may result in a juvenile serving time beyond his or her 21st birthday. After serving a minimum length of stay as a juvenile, an offender may be transferred to an adult prison facility to complete the sentence.

Restitution: Offenders may be ordered to reimburse a victim of crime for a loss caused by the offense.

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