Frequently Used Terms

The juvenile justice system for youth is different from the criminal system for adults.

  • The juvenile justice system deals with children whose offenses occur between the ages of 10-18.
  • Supervision of your child can continue until age 21.
  • Offenses are considered delinquent acts rather than crimes.
  • Most hearings are not open to the public and are presided over by a Judge
  • There is no jury trial in Juvenile Court.
  • Youth are “adjudicated delinquent”, rather than “found guilty”.

IJJC Frequently Used Terms:

Adjudication is the court process that determines (judges) if the juvenile committed the act for which he or she is charged. The term “adjudicated” is analogous to “convicted” and indicates that the court concluded the juvenile committed the act.

Unlawful intentional inflicting of serious bodily injury with or without a deadly weapon, or unlawful intentional attempting or threatening of serious bodily injury or death with a deadly or dangerous weapon. The term is used in the same sense as in the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) Crime Index. It encompasses conduct included under the statutory names aggravated assault and battery, aggravated battery, assault with intent to kill, assault with intent to commit murder or manslaughter, atrocious assault, attempted murder, felonious assault, and assault with a deadly weapon.

Intentional damaging or destruction by means of fire or explosion of the property of another without the owner’s consent, or of any property with intent to defraud, or attempting the above acts.

Unlawful entry or attempted entry of any fixed structure, vehicle, or vessel used for regular residence, industry, or business, with or without force, with intent to commit a felony or larceny. The term is used in the same sense as in the UCR Crime Index.

A statistic indicating the relative size of the sample on which the FBI’s arrest and reported crime estimates are based. The coverage indicator incorporates the population served by reporting law enforcement agencies and the number of months the agencies reported arrest or reported crime counts during the calendar year. Where the indicator equals 100%, all law enforcement agencies in the jurisdiction reported for all 12 months. A more complete explanation of the coverage indicator can be found in the Methods Section of Easy Access to FBI Arrest Statistics.

Causing the death of another person without legal justification or excuse. Criminal homicide is a summary category, not a single codified offense. The term, in law, embraces all homicides where the perpetrator intentionally killed someone without legal justification, or accidentally killed someone as a consequence of reckless or grossly negligent conduct. It includes all conduct encompassed by the terms murder, non-negligent (voluntary) manslaughter, negligent (involuntary) manslaughter, and vehicular manslaughter. The term is broader than the Crime Index category used in the FBI’s UCR, in which murder/non-negligent manslaughter does not include negligent manslaughter or vehicular manslaughter.

(persons under age 18 only) – Offenses relating to violations of local curfew and loitering ordinances where such laws exist.

An act committed by a juvenile for which an adult could be prosecuted in a criminal court, but when committed by a juvenile is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. Delinquent acts include crimes against persons, crimes against property, drug offenses, and crimes against public order, when juveniles commit such acts.

Unlawful interruption of the peace, quiet, or order of a community, including offenses called disturbing the peace, vagrancy, loitering, unlawful assembly, and riot.

Driving or operating any vehicle or common carrier while drunk or under the influence of liquor or narcotics.

State and/or local offenses relating to the unlawful possession, sale, use, growing, and manufacturing of narcotic drugs. The following drug categories are specified: opium or cocaine and their derivatives (morphine, heroin, codeine); marijuana; synthetic narcotics – manufactured narcotics that can cause true addiction (Demerol, Methadone); and dangerous nonnarcotic drugs (barbiturates, Benzedrine).

Offenses relating to drunkenness or intoxication. Excluded is driving under the influence.

Misappropriation or misapplication of money or property entrusted to one’s care, custody, or control.

Sexual intercourse or attempted sexual intercourse with a female against her will by force or threat of force. (Statutory offenses are excluded.) The term is used in the same sense as in the UCR Crime Index. Some states have enacted gender‑neutral rape or sexual assault statutes that prohibit forced sexual penetration of either sex. Data reported by these states do not distinguish between forcible rape of females as defined above and other sexual assaults.)

Making, altering, uttering, or possessing, with intent to defraud, anything false in the semblance of that which is true. Attempts are included.

Fraudulent conversion and obtaining money or property by false pretenses. Included are confidence games and bad checks, except forgeries and counterfeiting.

Promoting, permitting, or engaging in illegal gambling.

The decision made by juvenile court intake that results in a case either being handled informally at the intake level or being petitioned and scheduled for an adjudicatory or waiver hearing.

The decision made in response to a petition that asks the court to adjudicate or waive the youth. This decision is generally made by a juvenile court judge or referee.

Definite action taken or treatment plan decided on or initiated regarding a particular case after the judicial decision is made. For the Juvenile Court Statistics report series, case dispositions are coded into the following categories:

  • Waived to criminal court – Cases that were transferred to criminal court as the result of a waiver hearing in juvenile court.
  • Placement – Cases in which youth were placed in a residential facility for delinquents or were otherwise removed from their homes and placed elsewhere.
  • Probation – Cases in which youth were placed on informal/voluntary or formal/court‑ordered probation or supervision.
  • Dismissed – Cases dismissed (including those warned, counseled, and released) with no further action anticipated. Among cases handled informally, some cases may be dismissed by the juvenile court because the matter is being handled in another court.
  • Miscellaneous – A variety of actions not included above. This category includes fines, restitution and community services, referrals outside the court for services with minimal or no further court involvement anticipated, and dispositions coded as “Other” by the reporting courts.

A youth at or below the upper age of juvenile court jurisdiction in a particular state.

Any court that has jurisdiction over matters involving juveniles.

(except motor vehicle theft) – The unlawful taking, carrying, leading, or riding away of property from the possession or constructive possession of another. Examples are thefts of bicycles or automobile accessories, shoplifting, pocket-picking, or the stealing of any property or article that is not taken by force and violence, or by fraud. Attempted larcenies are included. Embezzlement, “con” games, forgery, worthless checks, etc., are excluded.

(not status) – Being in a public place while intoxicated through consumption of alcohol or intake of a controlled substance or drug. This category includes public intoxication, drunkenness, and other liquor law violations. It does not include driving under the influence. Some states treat public drunkenness of juveniles as a status offense, rather than delinquency; hence, some of these offenses may appear under the status offense code “status liquor law violations.” When a person who is publicly intoxicated performs acts that cause a disturbance, he or she may be charged with disorderly conduct.

A general classification of case processing within the juvenile court system.

(formally handled) – Cases that appear on the official court calendar in response to the filing of a petition or other legal instrument requesting the court to adjudicate the youth delinquent or to waive the youth to criminal court for processing as an adult.

(informally handled) – Cases that duly authorized court personnel screen for adjustment without the filing of a formal petition. Such personnel include judges, referees, probation officers, other officers of the court, and/or an agency statutorily designated to conduct petition screening for the juvenile court.

Unlawful taking, or attempted taking, of a self‑propelled road vehicle owned by another, with the intent to deprive the owner of it permanently or temporarily.

Intentionally causing the death of another without legal justification or excuse, or causing the death of another while committing or attempting to commit another crime. Deaths caused by negligence, attempts to kill, suicides, accidental deaths, and justifiable homicides are excluded.

All unlawful acts committed with intent to prevent or hinder the administration of justice, including law enforcement, judicial, and correctional functions. Examples include contempt, perjury, bribing witnesses, failure to report a crime, and nonviolent resisting of arrest.

Nonsupport, neglect, desertion, or abuse of children or other family members.

A document filed in juvenile court alleging that a juvenile is a delinquent and asking that the court assume jurisdiction over the juvenile or asking that an alleged delinquent be waived to criminal court for prosecution as an adult.

Identifies whether a juvenile placement facility is publicly or privately owned/operated.

Facilities operated by state or local government agencies in which the employees working daily in the facilities and directly with the residents are state or local government employees.

Facilities operated by private nonprofit or for-profit corporations or organizations in which the employees working daily in the facilities and directly with the residents are employees of the private corporation or organization.

Identifies categories of juveniles held in residential placement facilities.

Includes juveniles in placement in the facility as part of a court ordered disposition. Committed juveniles include those whose cases have been adjudicated and disposed in juvenile court and those who have been convicted and sentenced in criminal court.

Includes juveniles held prior to adjudication while awaiting an adjudication hearing in juvenile court, as well as juveniles held after adjudication while awaiting disposition or awaiting placement elsewhere. Also includes juveniles awaiting transfer to adult criminal court, or awaiting a hearing or trial in adult criminal court.

Includes juveniles sent to the facility in lieu of adjudication as part of a diversion agreement.

Includes burglary, larceny‑theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.

Sex offenses of a commercialized nature, such as prostitution, keeping a bawdy house, procuring, or transporting women for immoral purposes. Attempts are included.

Unlawful taking or attempted taking of property that is in the immediate possession of another by force or the threat of force.

(except forcible rape, prostitution, and commercialized vice) – Statutory rape and offenses against chastity, common decency, morals, and the like. Attempts are included.

Unlawful threatening, attempted inflicting, or inflicting of less than serious bodily injury, in the absence of a deadly weapon. The term is used in the same sense as in UCR reporting. Simple assault is often not distinctly named in statutes since it consists of all assaults not explicitly named and defined as serious.

A nondelinquent/noncriminal offense; an offense that is illegal for underage persons, but not for adults.

Violation of an ordinance forbidding persons below a certain age from being in public places during set hours.

Being beyond the control of parents, guardians, or custodians.

Leaving the custody and home of parents or guardians without permission and failing to return within a reasonable length of time.

Violation of a compulsory school attendance law.

Possession, use, or consumption of alcohol by a minor.

(buying, receiving, possessing) – Buying, receiving, or possessing stolen property, including attempts.

Unlawful entry or attempted entry of the property of another with the intent to commit a misdemeanor, other than larceny, or without intent to commit a crime.