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Truancy complications may lead to serious penalties

New Jersey youths who fail to attend school could be charged with truancy if their absences are unexcused. Although federal law states that minors can't be incarcerated for being truant, judges at the state level may elect to send them to jails or detention centers if they don't comply with probation orders or exhibit further truant behavior after being formally cautioned.

Legal sources say that the parents of truant students may also face charges for not making sure their kids go to school. In some cases, truancy, curfew infractions and other so-called status offenses may be regarded as indicative of problems at home.

Police departments are commonly involved in truancy enforcement, and although they are cautioned not to criminalize truant youth, they might be more prone to having negative interactions with them that could lead to legal troubles. Analysts believe that truant youth may be more likely to commit crimes or become delinquent, and police could be motivated to crack down on truancy enforcement in the belief that doing so will reduce other problems. Because truancy can be related to learning disabilities, bullying and abuse at home, however, kids who have run-ins with police may not end up getting the help they need.

Kids who pick up criminal records may experience difficulty getting a good start in life. Charges like drug possession and DWI might make it harder to land important first jobs or apply to colleges, especially if parents and other figures fail to provide the needed support. At-risk children could also face a higher risk of getting detained or harassed by law enforcement. Juveniles who have been charged in the past may find it helpful to seek record expungement before trying to move on with their lives.

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