Statistical Briefing Book > Juvenile Justice System Structure & Process Previous Page
Jurisdictional Boundaries
Q: What is a juvenile?
A: A juvenile is a youth at or below the upper age of original jurisdiction in a State.

Upper age of juvenile court delinquency jurisdiction, 2016

State Age 15 Age 16 Age 17
Number of states 2 7 42
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

Note: Information is as of the end of the 2016 legislative session.

  • The upper age of jurisdiction is the oldest age at which a juvenile court has original jurisdiction over an individual for law violating behavior.
  • State statutes define which youth are under the original jurisdiction of the juvenile court. These definitions are based primarily on age criteria. In most States, the juvenile court has original jurisdiction over all youth charged with a criminal law violation who were below the age of 18 at the time of the offense, arrest, or referral to court. Many States have higher upper ages of juvenile court jurisdiction in status offense, abuse, neglect, or dependency matters - often through age 20.
  • Many States have statutory exceptions to basic age criteria. The exceptions, related to the youth's age, alleged offense, and/or prior court history, place certain youth under the original jurisdiction of the criminal court. This is known as statutory exclusion.
  • In some States, a combination of the youth's age, offense, and prior record places the youth under the original jurisdiction of both the juvenile and criminal courts. In these situations where the courts have concurrent jurisdiction, the prosecutor is given the authority to decide which court will initially handle the case. This is known as concurrent jurisdiction, prosecutor discretion, or direct filing.

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/structure_process/qa04101.asp?qaDate=2016. Released on March 27, 2017.