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Common Juvenile Crimes: Vandalism, Shoplifting, and More

Juvenile Crime

While juvenile courts often carry less severe punishments for the sentencing of crimes, being involved in the criminal justice system so young can have damaging impacts on the rest of your life. 

Part of growing up is making mistakes and learning from those actions, and sometimes those mistakes involve breaking the law. There is not one single answer for why do juveniles commit crimes, but it happens. The Arizona juvenile court systems do, luckily, focus more on rehabilitation rather than the punishments for offenders under the age of 18, but sometimes, being a juvenile doesn’t excuse certain actions. With an experienced attorney on your side, receiving the best consequences for your actions is far more likely. 

Not All Minors Are Considered Juveniles

In the state of Arizona, you are considered a juvenile if you are under the age of 18. When you break the law, you are a “delinquent offender” or “juvenile delinquent” to make the distinction between being charged as an adult in the courts. 

When you break the law as a juvenile, the crimes are referred to as delinquent acts, and if you are convicted, you are said to be “found delinquent.” There are a few other differences in terminology between adult criminal charges and juvenile charges because the latter is often more closely related to civil court rather than criminal court. 

But, don’t let these differences seem like the juvenile court will be a walk in the park for you if you’ve committed a crime because juveniles can still face severe consequences of misdemeanors and felonies. 

Categories of Offenses in Arizona Juvenile Courts

There are three categories of offenses that you can face in the eyes of the Arizona juvenile courts: incorrigible acts, misdemeanors, and felonies. Each category carries a different set of consequences that ranges in severity depending on the crimes committed by juveniles. 

  1. Incorrigible Acts

The least severe of the three, incorrigible acts are offenses that wouldn’t be considered a crime if an adult committed them. For example:

  • Breaking curfew — most cities have curfew hours set to help keep minors safe
  • Truancy — the continued failure to attend school
  • Any other acts that repeatedly disobey the directions of lawful parents or guardians
  1. Juvenile Misdemeanors

As a juvenile, misdemeanor charges still carry consequences but are often less severe than being charged as an adult. Common consequences can include fines, community service, mandatory course completion, probation, or even detention (especially for repeat offenders). 

Common misdemeanor charges include:

  • Arson — deliberately setting fire to property.
  • Assault — inflicting physical harm or unwanted physical contact on another individual. This commonly occurs in fights.
  • DUI — this is a serious offense, even for juveniles. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can carry serious implications because Arizona has a “not a drop” policy when it comes to underage drinking laws and driving. Fines, detention, and suspension of license are all real consequences that you could face if found delinquent of a DUI. 
  • MIP — minor in possession of alcohol is a common charge handed out when police break up a high school party. The penalty for underage drinking can result in fines up to $2,500 and 180 days of detention. 
  • Fake ID — while sometimes the store clerk or bouncer will confiscate your fake ID, if the cops get involved you could face losing your real license for up to six months. 
  • Shoplifting — What is shoplifting? It is when someone knowingly removes the merchandise from a store with the intent of not paying. Getting caught shoplifting is a misdemeanor, and the shoplifting laws and penalties depend on the value of the item(s) that were stolen. 
  • Trespassing — entering private property without permission or staying after being told to leave. 
  • Vandalism — What is vandalism? It is the deliberate destruction or defacing of public or private property. Common types of vandalism are graffiti, broken windows, school vandalism — from writing on desks to destroying school property, egg throwing, and even arson. Vandalism charges can vary and even result in felony vandalism charges if the value of damages is high enough.
  1. Juvenile Feloniesteen crime

If you commit certain serious crimes, county prosecutors are required to bring criminal (adult) charges if you are between the age of 15 to 17. These serious offenses include:

  • Murder
  • Forcible sexual assault
  • Armed robbery
  • Violent crimes
  • Felony offense committed by repeat felony offender

Aside from these, prosecutors have the discretion to try a juvenile who is over the age of 14 as an adult for any class 1-2 felonies, select class 3 felonies, and class 4-6 felonies that involve a dangerous offense.

As you can see, just because you may be considered a “kid,” your actions still carry consequences, which are sometimes severe. If you (or your child) find yourself mixed up with the wrong side of the juvenile law, it is important to contact a qualified attorney right away. 

At the Sonoran Law Group, we have the experience and knowledge to help fight the charges and secure the best outcome possible for your juvenile case. Acting fast is important for reducing or eliminating the damaging effects that a conviction of a juvenile crime can bring. 

Contact us today to learn more about how our dedicated and qualified team can help!