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Understanding Juvenile Status Offenses in Tennessee: Is Your Child “Unruly”?

As parents, we want the best for our children. But sometimes, young people make choices that lead to legal trouble. In Tennessee, certain behaviors are considered offenses only because of a person’s age. These are known as “status offenses,” and they’re handled differently than typical juvenile delinquency charges.

At Chelsea Nicholson Law, we understand the unique challenges status offenses present. We’re here to guide you through the process, protect your child’s rights, and help them get back on track.

What are Status Offenses?

Status offenses are actions that wouldn’t be illegal for adults, but are considered unlawful for minors due to their age. In Tennessee, common status offenses include:

  • Truancy: Missing school without a valid excuse.
  • Incorrigibility/Ungovernability: Refusing to obey reasonable and lawful commands of parents or guardians.
  • Running Away: Leaving home without permission and failing to return.
  • Curfew Violations: Being out past designated curfew hours.
  • Underage Use of Tobacco: Possessing or using tobacco products.

How are Status Offenses Handled?

Status offenses aren’t treated as crimes in the same way as theft or assault. Instead, they’re often classified under the category of “unruly child.” The focus is on helping your child correct their behavior rather than punishing them.

The juvenile court may order interventions like:

  • Counseling or Therapy: To address underlying issues contributing to the behavior.
  • Probation: Supervision with specific conditions like attending school or obeying curfews.
  • Community Service: Giving back to the community through volunteer work.
  • Placement in a Residential Program: In more serious cases, temporary placement outside the home may be necessary.

Why You Need an Attorney

While the juvenile court aims to help, it’s crucial to have legal representation. An experienced attorney can:

  • Protect Your Child’s Rights: Ensure fair treatment and due process throughout the legal proceedings.
  • Advocate for Your Child’s Best Interests: Work with the court to find solutions that address the root causes of the behavior.
  • Navigate the Legal System: Help you understand the process and the potential outcomes.

Chelsea Nicholson Law is Here for You

We know that dealing with status offenses can be stressful. Our dedicated team is committed to providing compassionate, knowledgeable legal support. We’ll work tirelessly to help your child overcome these challenges and build a brighter future.

If your child is facing a status offense in Tennessee, don’t hesitate to contact Chelsea Nicholson Law today. We’re ready to help you and your family.

Call us at 615-913-3932 to schedule your free consultation.

Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Please consult with an attorney to discuss your specific situation.