The term juvenile offenders, or juvenile delinquents, refers, generally, to youth who commit a legal infraction; however, there are variations across jurisdictions in statutory age limits and the offenses considered legal infractions. Statutory ages defining a juvenile offender generally range between 12 and 18 years. In some jurisdictions, though, youth as young as 6 years can be charged with a criminal offense. Similarly, in some jurisdictions, depending on the crime, a youth under the statutory age limit can be charged as an adult. Types of infractions meriting charging a youth as a criminal offender vary as well. In some cases, status offenses such as truancy or running away are considered criminal acts, whereas in other jurisdictions these are treated outside the juvenile justice system.

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