Status Offenders Law and Legal Definition

Status offenders are young people charged with offenses that would not be crimes if committed by an adult. For example, being habitually disobedient, breaking tobacco or alcohol consumption laws, not attending school, breaking curfew laws, running away from home, or being beyond the control of parents. Personal, family, and school problems as contributing factors for status offenses. Juvenile court systems handle status offenses, which are treated differently than criminal offenses. Status offenders are virtually never incarcerated for their first offense. But if they later violate a court order governing their behavior, they can be found delinquent. Status offenders are also called Youth in Crisis.

The following is an example of a state statute (Connecticut) on Status Offenders:

In Connecticut, children or youth who commit status offenses are defined as Family with Service Needs (FWSN) or Youth in Crisis. According to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-120 (2)(A) "Youth" means any person sixteen or seventeen years of age who has not been legally emancipated, and (B) "youth in crisis" means any person seventeen years of age who has not been legally emancipated and who, within the last two years, (i) has without just cause run away from the parental home or other properly authorized and lawful place of abode, (ii) is beyond the control of the youth's parents, guardian or other custodian, or (iii) has four unexcused absences from school in any one month or ten unexcused absences in any school year.

According to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-120 (7) "Family with service needs" means a family that includes a child or a youth sixteen years of age who (A) has without just cause run away from the parental home or other properly authorized and lawful place of abode, (B) is beyond the control of the child's or youth's parent, parents, guardian or other custodian, (C) has engaged in indecent or immoral conduct, (D) is a truant or habitual truant or who, while in school, has been continuously and overtly defiant of school rules and regulations, or (E) is thirteen years of age or older and has engaged in sexual intercourse with another person and such other person is thirteen years of age or older and not more than two years older or younger than such child or youth.