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Most Common Juvenile Crimes and Their Consequences

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In Washington, minors who commit crimes undergo a separate criminal process than adult offenders. The Washington Juvenile Court System oversees sentencing for juvenile offenders, focusing on treatment and rehabilitation instead of punishment. Criminal penalties for minors differ from penalties for adults.

Types of Juvenile Penalties in Washington

RCW 13.40.0357 establishes sentencing guidelines for juvenile offenders based on specific crimes, which increase based on the offense, prior adjudications, and the presence of factors such as conspiracy, bail jumping, or solicitation.

Under RCW 13.40.0357, juveniles either face local sanctions or a set sentence in a juvenile detention center. Local sanctions may include one or more of the following penalties.

  • Between zero to 30 days in confinement
  • Between zero to 12 months of community supervision
  • Between zero to 150 hours of community restitution
  • Between $0 to $500 in fines


Theft is one of the most common juvenile offenses and may involve a variety of stolen goods. The juvenile offender may steal from stores, his or her friends or family members, or strangers. There are several types of juvenile theft charges in Washington.

  • First-degree theft is a Class B offense under RCW 13.40.0357 and is subject to local sanctions. If the juvenile has two or more adjudications, he or she may face between 15 to 65 weeks in a detention center.
  • Second-degree theft is a Class C offense and subject to local sanctions, unless the minor has at least three previous adjudications. In those situations, penalties increase to between 15 to 36 weeks in detention.
  • Third-degree theft is a Class D offense and subject to local sanctions. Prior adjudications do not affect this crime’s penalties.
  • Theft of a firearm or a motor vehicle are also Class B offenses subject to local sanctions. Penalties may increase to between 15 and 65 weeks in detention based on prior adjudications.


Assault is another common juvenile offense. Adolescents can get into fights with friends, and if the fight involves physical violence, a minor can face the following consequences.

  • First-degree assault is a Class A offense subject to 103 to 129 weeks in detention, regardless of prior adjudications.
  • Second-degree assault is a Class B+ offense subject to 15 to 129 weeks in detention, depending on prior history.
  • Third-degree assault is a Class C+ offense subject to local sanctions. If the juvenile has over three adjudications, he or she can face between 15 to 36 weeks in detention.
  • Fourth-degree assault is a Class D+ offense subject to local sanctions.

Drug and Alcohol Crimes

It is illegal for minors under the age of 21 to acquire, possess, or consume alcohol in Washington. It is also a crime to use or be in possession of an illegal drug, such as heroin or cocaine. Minors under the age of 21 cannot possess or consume marijuana, even though recreational cannabis is legal in the state.

Penalties for juvenile drug and alcohol crimes may result in local sanctions, particularly for crimes involving alcohol or legend drugs, which are prescription substances. More serious drug crimes, such as possession with intent to distribute narcotics, are Class B offenses subject to local sanctions or up to 65 weeks in detention.

If you or your child is facing charges for a juvenile offense, contact a Tacoma juvenile defense lawyer. Your attorney can guide you through the juvenile justice process and advocate for the best possible outcome during each stage of the case. Following the arrest, contact your lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your next steps forward.

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