of ways in which courts have excluded certain juveniles from juvenile court jurisdiction. These include setting an age above which the juvenile court no longer has jurisdiction and various mechanisms for transferring juveniles under that age to criminal court.
State laws set a maximum age for adolescents for which the juvenile court has original jurisdiction. This age varies by state and sometimes by offense. In Connecticut, New York, and North Carolina, the highest age of juvenile court jurisdiction in criminal delinquency cases is 15; that is, anyone age 16 and older is handled in the criminal (adult) court. In Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin, juvenile court jurisdiction applies through age 16. In the remaining states and the District of Columbia, the highest age of jurisdiction is 17 (Griffin et al., 1998). Assuming that children under a certain age cannot be responsible for their behavior, 15 states specify the lowest age for juvenile court jurisdiction. In North Carolina, the lowest minimum age is 6 years; it is 7 in Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York; 8 in Arizona; and 10 in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin (Snyder and Sickmund, 1999). In practice, very few children under the age of 10 appear before the juvenile court for delinquency charges.
Lowering the maximum age of juvenile court jurisdiction is one of the most drastic steps a state can take, because it moves an entire age group of adolescents into the adult system. In recent years, only three states have changed their laws to lower the maximum age of juvenile court jurisdiction. In 1993, Wyoming dropped its maximum age from 18 to 17. In 1995, New Hampshire and Wisconsin lowered their maximum ages from 17 to 16 (Torbet et al., 1996). Although it is difficult to determine exactly how many juveniles these changes affected, 17-year-olds accounted for 24 percent of the arrests of all those under 18 in 1998. Therefore, moving 17-year-olds to the criminal justice system could reduce the case flow in the juvenile system by as much as one-fourth. The fact that so few states have chosen this option suggests that legislative concern has been focused on serious and violent crime rather than all juvenile crime (Dawson, 2000).
From the inception of the juvenile court, juvenile court judges have had the discretion to waive jurisdiction to the criminal court. These waivers generally fit one of three case types: serious offense, extensive