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Labeling, 2015

Label other than standard labels: Wards of the court

In California, status offense cases are classified as wards of the court and include habitual truancy, habitual refusal to obey parents or guardians, being beyond the control of parents or guardians, and violation of a curfew ordinance.

Age boundaries, 2016

  • Status offense jurisdiction

    Up through 17 years old

    No lower age specified

  • Delinquency jurisdiction

    Up through 17 years old

    No lower age specified

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In California, no lower age is specified for a “ward of court.” The highest age a child’s conduct can be considered a status offense is 17. Non-delinquent behaviors include: persistent or habitual disobedience (home or school authorities), those beyond control of caretaker/s, curfew violations, and habitual truancy and contempt of court for failure to comply with the court. Other fine-only/child-only violations and infractions may be heard in juvenile court or in accordance with informal Juvenile and Traffic Court practices. At times, adjudicated youth in foster care can request to remain under the court’s jurisdiction up to age 21. Cal.Welf. & Inst.Code § 601, § 601.5

Reported data

Progressive data, 2016

The California Department of Justice reports status offense cases across contact points such as arrest, referral, and petitions in its annual Juvenile Justice in California series. Each of the contact points compares the number of status cases with juvenile misdemeanor and felony cases. Details specific to status offenses include age, race, gender, and behavior-type, such as runaway and truancy.

View the Juvenile Justice in California (annual statistical report series) >>

Report excerpt, Juvenile Justice in California 2014 (p.31).

About this project

Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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