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In US, the states differentiate adult and child in accordance to the legal capacity i.e. legal responsibility cannot be assigned to a person who lacks the maturity to completely understand the implications of their actions. Such a tricky situation may arise when a child commits a serious crime and prosecutors have to decide if the child has to be charged as a minor or adult. The prosecutors have the ability to charge a child who is 13 years or older as adults in certain situations. In such situations, the case is handled at criminal courts. However, if charged as a minor, the case is heard in family courts.

Parents or guardians are responsible for their children and the possible financial penalties but they cannot be punished for violating their responsibilities. The young people who break the law can be rehabilitated to juvenile facilities which are locked-down facilities by the family court. The most severe penalty would be rehabilitation till they are 18 or 21 years in age. If a child is 16 years or above, then he/she is charged automatically as adult. However, 13 to 15 year olds can be charged as adults for serious and violent crimes. If a child is charged as an adult, then they are subjected to the same punishments and penalties as an adult. In such cases, the minor is called as ‘youthful offender’ and the records are sealed automatically. Thus, the criminal records are not seen on minor’s record. Contact Aditya Surti Esq. at 201-518-6642 to schedule an appointment at the Jersey City Office or at 732-750-1269 to schedule an appointment at the Woodbridge Office. You can also email us at to schedule an appointment.