When school is out for the summer, many students may try to find way to have fun over their break. Some may even look for that fun to include underage drinking. However, individuals who are looking to participate in such an activity should know that they could face serious punishments if they are charged by authorities. Some states may even take extra precautions to ensure that underage individuals do not consume alcohol.
A juvenile delinquent is a minor, generally between the ages of 10 and 18, who commits an illegal act like underage drinking or shoplifting. Instead of a trial, juveniles receive an "adjudication" and a "disposition." It is after the disposition that the juvenile is sentenced. Juvenile crimes fall into one of two categories. The fist involves crimes that would be considered criminal acts if they were committed by an adult. The second category involves "age-related" crimes. Both can have serious consequences.
Laws restricting access to alcohol among minors were first enacted in the 20th century. Initially these laws varied dramatically from state to state. In 1984, however, Congress enacted the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, prohibiting persons under 21 from purchasing or publicly consuming alcohol. To enforce the act a portion of federal highway funds is withheld from any state that refuses to comply. Today, every state, including New Jersey, prohibits underage drinking.
Like their adult counterparts, teenagers can make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes can cross the line into criminal behavior. From age-based offenses like underage drinking and curfew violations, to criminal offenses including drug charges and domestic violence, juvenile crimes are treated differently than adult crimes, often by being punished much less harshly. Nevertheless, ending up in the New Jersey juvenile justice system is still no walk in the park.