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Understanding Juvenile Penalties

Juvenile offenders can face many different punishment options when they are convicted of crimes. These punishments can range from simple warnings to adult offender penalties, depending on the offense.

Here are a few of the sentences a juvenile offender can face when found guilty of a crime in juvenile court. Keep in mind that these punishments can vary from state to state. 


Incarceration is a broad term for many different variations on confinement. A juvenile offender who is condemned to incarceration can be under sentence of house arrest, juvenile hall or juvenile facilities, placement in a new home, or even adult jail for very serious offenses. 

Community Service 

This is a very common punishment for juvenile offenders. The penalty consists of a certain number of unpaid hours that the guilty party must work for the betterment of the community. Tasks can range from picking up trash to working on government projects. 


Depending on the crime, the juvenile offender can be fined a sum determined by the court. The fine can be paid either to the victim of the crime, if there was one, or the court.


Often a juvenile offender is put on probation either as a sentence or following one. During a probation period, the convicted person must meet certain requirements such as taking court ordered classes online, going to counseling, checking in with their probation officers, and avoiding certain people who are known to be a bad influence. Following these requirements are important for the offender’s eventual rehabilitation. 

These are just a few of the punishments a court can give to a juvenile offender. Of course, the punishment will fit the crime, and certain very serious crimes are eligible for adult penalties. But for more common offenses, these are the penalties a court is most likely to assign.