Juvenile justice

I’m under 18. Can I still get in arrested and put in jail for wrongdoing?

Yes. Missouri’s juvenile justice and court system are governed by Chapter 211 of the Missouri Statutes, the juvenile code for Missouri. The statute applies to persons under 18 (see 210.110, Revised Missouri Statutes).

Are there some offenses where I would be tried the same as an adult?

Yes. Certain traffic offenses, as well as certain drug, robbery, assault and sex offenses, as well as a handful of others.

What are some of the common offenses teens get in trouble for?

Thefts, marijuana, criminal damage to personal property, and sexual-related offenses.

If I’m stopped by the police, what rights do I have?

In accordance with Missouri law (211.059, Revised Missouri Statutes) and Federal law, when a law enforcement officer takes a juvenile into custody and starts asking questions, the officer must first advise the juvenile of his/her constitutional rights. These rights include the right to remain silent; that any statement made can be used against the child in subsequent court proceedings; that the child has the right to have a parent/guardian present during questioning; that the child has the right to consult with an attorney (and one will be appointed if he/she cannot afford one); and that the child has the right to stop talking at any time. The officer must stop questioning if at any time the child lets the officer know the child wishes to stop being questioned.

Why would I want to remain silent? Why can’t I just answer the officer’s questions?

It’s up to you whether you want to answer the questions. But keep in mind that you might be incriminating yourself if you answer the officer’s questions. Incriminating statements (such as a confession) are probably not in your best interest. You are not obliged to help the state in your own conviction.

Can my juvenile record be used against me, if I get into trouble as an adult?

Yes. Sometimes the court system will take your entire record (including juvenile offenses) into consideration, when deciding how harshly to punish you.

The Missouri Bar is a statewide organization that is dedicated to improving the legal profession, the law and the administration of justice for all Missourians. This website was a project of The Missouri Bar Leadership Academy Class of 2017-18.
PO Box 119, 326 Monroe St. Jefferson City, MO 65102 | (573) 635-4128 | Legal Reources Line: (573) 636-3635
© 2024 The Missouri Bar