In Utah, like most other states, minors under the age of 18 are generally not labeled as “criminals” when they commit an illegal act. The criminal justice system is typically reserved for adults who commit crimes, but occasionally a juvenile who commits a serious crime may be tried as an adult, particularly for a violent crime or if the offender shows a marked lack of remorse or some other reason why the minor shouldn’t be treated with “kid gloves”. So rather than enter the criminal justice system, most juveniles are adjudicated of an offense, rather than convicted of a crime. Another word for a juvenile offender is “delinquent.”
Interestingly enough, there is an entire group of offenses, known as status crimes, which can only be committed by minors. This is the case because, by definition, the only thing that makes these acts illegal is the age of the person who committed it. For example, a 23-year-old who buys a six pack of beer is perfectly allowed to do so, but a 16-year-old who does the same thing is likely to be arrested for possession of alcohol by a minor.
In addition to underage drinking, use of tobacco products and possession or use of other products which have an age restriction, minors can also be arrested or cited for failing to attend school, staying out past curfew and other special offenses for which adults cannot be arrested.
Juveniles who commit status crimes may be given the opportunity to avoid imprisonment or time in a juvenile detention facility, and they may even be able to have these offenses expunged from their permanent record, but this requires the assistance of an experienced defense attorney who knows the ins and outs of the system. Juveniles and their parents know that a juvenile crime shouldn’t jeopardize a child’s future, which is why seeking proper legal guidance can be of utmost importance.
Source: Findlaw “Juvenile Delinquents” accessed Sept. 24, 2015