The term "delinquent" actually means "late" or "slow to meet a certain requirement on time." When a payment of a bill is not made on the date it was due it is said to be "delinquent."

When a juvenile (person under the age eighteen years) fails to develop sufficient good judgment to behave in conformance with the law, the juvenile is said to be "delinquent."

Therefore, when a juvenile commits an act which if committed by an adult would be a crime, the law in Ohio does not refer to the juvenile as a criminal, but rather as a "delinquent child." This is in keeping with the general philosophy of juvenile courts that by reforming the juvenile's behavior rather than punishing the juvenile as the law would do for an adult, the court can persuade, educate, and train the juvenile to conform with the law, develop proper judgment and cease to be "delinquent."

Delinquent conduct may be as a result of the commission of an act which may be characterized by the law as either a "misdemeanor" lower level crime, or "felony" higher level crime.


Minor misdemeanors are the lowest level of offense. In many cases, the juvenile and parent may waive the juvenile's right to appear in court for an adjudication, and pay a fine and court costs though the mail.

Some typical non-waiverable misdemeanors heard in juvenile court are disorderly conduct, vandalism, use or possession of alcohol, petty theft or shop lifting, drug use and possession, assaults, and/or domestic violence.

Consequences for these acts may include payment of a fine, court costs, restitution for the victim, probation, community service, counseling, and/or detention.


Some typical felonies heard in juvenile court are drug offenses, aggravated assault, vandalism, theft, repeated domestic violence, rape, arson, and/or murder.

Consequences for these acts include larger fines, court costs, restitution for the victim, probation, community service, counseling, and/or commitment to the Ohio Department of Youth Services up to age twenty-one. In some instances, a juvenile may be tried as an adult and receive an adult sentence. In other cases, a juvenile may receive a "blended" sentence including elements of juvenile disposition and adult sentencing.

Victims' Rights

If you are a victim of a delinquent act committed by a juvenile, you may be eligible for certain services, compensation, or rights to notification. You may contact the Wayne County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, Victim Witness Assistance Progam, or click here.

Please Note: These descriptions are not 100% inclusive and should not be relied upon except as general information on the juvenile court. The court has broad discretion to fashion a disposition which succeeds in ending the delinquent behavior.


The information contained on this web site is not legal advice, nor should it substitute for the assistance of a qualified attorney. Good legal assistance can speed up the court process and prevent costly legal errors.

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