Statistical Briefing Book > Juvenile Justice System Structure & Process Previous Page
Jurisdictional Boundaries
Q: Do juvenile courts lose jurisdiction over juvenile offenders when they turn 18?
A: Juvenile court authority over a youth for dispositional purposes in delinquency matters may extend beyond the upper age of original jurisdiction.
Notes: Extended jurisdiction may be restricted to certain offenses or juveniles.
* Arizona statute extends jurisdiction through age 20, but a 1979 state supreme court decision held that juvenile court jurisdiction terminates at age 18.
** The Nevada statute extends jurisdiction until the full term of the disposition order for sex offenders.
Information is as of the end of the 2018 legislative session.
  • Through extended jurisdiction mechanisms, legislatures enable the court to provide sanctions and services for a duration of time that is in the best interests of the juvenile and the public, even for older juveniles who have reached the age at which original juvenile court jurisdiction ends.
  • An upper age of 18 means that the juvenile court loses jurisdiction over a child when they turn 19; an upper age of 19 means that a juvenile court loses jurisdiction when a child turns 20; and a upper age of 20 means that a juvenile court loses jurisdiction over a child when they turn 21.
  • Extended jurisdiction may be restricted to certain offenses or juveniles (such as violent offenses, habitual offenders, and juveniles under correctional commitment).
  • In some States, the juvenile court may actually impose adult correctional sanctions on certain adjudicated delinquents that extend the term of confinement well beyond the upper age of juvenile jurisdiction. Such sentencing options are included in the set of dispositional options known as blended sentencing.
  • In Alaska, jurisdiction can extend for an additional one year period if it is in the best interests of the person and the person consents.
  • Mississippi law states that juveniles charged with robbery, arson, and drug offenses can remain in the juvenile justice system.

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/structure_process/qa04106.asp?qaDate=2018. Released on December 13, 2019.