If a juvenile (less than 18 years old) is charged with a felony in Minnesota, long-term, serious consequences can follow him or her for years to come if the child is found guilty. The juvenile court system handles most juvenile cases, though exceptional cases are referred to adult courts.
The Juvenile Justice System in Minnesota
Minnesota classifies anyone aged between 10 and 17 as a juvenile. Juveniles are subject to special court procedures and the laws and penalties they face are typically different than those faced by adult offenders. The juvenile court system generally has jurisdiction over felonies committed by persons younger than 18. It is possible, however, for a juvenile offender to be tried as an adult in the adult court system.
If a juvenile is found guilty of a felony offense, he or she will face penalties permitted under the court’s jurisdiction. The penalties include:
- placement in a juvenile detention center or enrollment in a specialized school for juvenile offenders
- restitution or community service
- home detention or placement in foster care
Juveniles Charged in Adult Courts
Sometimes juvenile courts decide that adult courts should handle felony cases involving minors. This often happens when the child involved has a history of criminal conduct and/or is facing charges for a particularly dangerous offense. Juvenile courts can only refer children aged above 14 to adult courts because Minnesota law considers children below 14 to be legally incapable of committing a crime. A juvenile who is tried and convicted as an adult in the adult court system could be sent to prison.
Collateral Consequences of Juvenile Felony Convictions
A felony conviction as a juvenile can haunt a person for the rest of his or her life. When a juvenile is convicted of a felony offense, federal and state laws and municipal ordinances may cause barriers to arise in opportunities for future employment, housing, education, and even the exercise of civil rights.
A felony record could bar a person from taking advantage of government housing assistance, working with vulnerable people in health care, child care, or foster parenting, obtaining a job at a public school, enlisting in the military, or holding a position in law enforcement. He or she may also be banned from possessing firearms, traveling internationally, or even voting.
Additionally, the stigma associated with felony convictions can lead employers and landlords to reject applicants without cause.