adult | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: General Term

An adult is a  person that has reached the age of majority, which is most commonly set at 18 years.

In the criminal justice context, the definition of an adult is a crucial concept that has significant implications for how individuals are treated by the legal system. An adult is typically defined as a person who has reached the age of majority, which is the age at which a person is considered to be legally responsible for their actions and decisions. In most countries, including the United States, the age of majority is set at 18 years.

The concept of adulthood is an important one in criminal justice because it determines the level of accountability that an individual is subject to when they are accused of committing a crime. If an individual is considered an adult, they are held fully responsible for their actions, and they can be subjected to the full range of legal penalties for their crimes, including imprisonment, fines, and probation.

On the other hand, if an individual is considered a juvenile, they are subject to a different set of rules and procedures. In most cases, juveniles are not held to the same standard of accountability as adults, and they are treated differently by the legal system. For example, juveniles are often sent to rehabilitation centers or juvenile detention facilities rather than adult prisons, and they may be given more lenient sentences for their crimes.

The age of majority has been set at 18 years in most countries for a variety of reasons. At this age, individuals are considered to have reached a level of maturity and responsibility that makes them capable of making informed decisions and understanding the consequences of their actions. Additionally, at the age of 18, individuals are typically considered to be fully developed both physically and mentally, which further supports their capacity for responsibility.

It is worth noting that the age of majority is not a universal concept and can vary between countries and jurisdictions. For example, in some countries, the age of majority is set at 16 or 21 years. These differences in the age of majority can have significant implications for how individuals are treated by the legal system and can lead to variations in the way that crimes are prosecuted and punished.

In recent years, there has been some debate over whether the age of majority should be changed in certain circumstances. Some advocates have argued that the age of majority should be lowered for certain crimes, such as drug offenses or violent crimes, while others have argued that the age of majority should be raised for certain activities, such as voting or military service.

Regardless of these debates, the concept of adulthood remains a critical concept in the criminal justice context, and the age of the majority is a fundamental factor in determining how individuals are treated by the legal system. As such, it is essential for individuals to understand the implications of adulthood and the importance of taking responsibility for their actions as they reach this critical milestone.

[ Glossary ]

Last Modified: 04/29/2023

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